The colors are electric but the images, like skeletons sitting on altars surrounded by skulls, candy and candles, can, at first glance, be a bit “Oh my!” frightening.
Yet this mix of art, creativity and joy around a subject usually associated with sadness — death — is part of the tradition of Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead celebration.
The holiday is time to reflect and remember friends, family members and other loved ones who have died.
On Saturday, a Day of the Dead celebration is scheduled at Everett Community College. The event will include a number of ways to celebrate, including contests for who can construct the best Dia de los Muertos altar, write the best holiday-related poetry and dress as the best Catrinas, women in elaborate costumes and artistic face makeup to figuratively represent death.
There are still spots available for individuals or groups who want to compete.
The event is free. There will be music, workshops on how to make paper flowers and paint a skeleton, and a celebration of the meanings behind the annual Day of the Dead holiday, said event organizer Julieta Altamirano-Crosby.
Maria Behrens, program manager for Everett Community College’s Diversity and Equity Center, said Saturday’s event “is an opportunity for everybody to learn and share our traditions.
“It’s a time to be proud and show that we have a very rich culture,” she said. “Everybody is invited.”
Altamirano-Crosby said she wanted the event to be free to encourage families to attend.
The event’s primary sponsor is Humanities Washington, a nonprofit which receives funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
“We think it’s important to come together and learn how people from Mexico and other countries add to the richness of our communities,” said Julie Ziegler, executive director of Humanities Washington.
The organization donated $1,000 for the event. It is one of about 500 cultural events it sponsors statewide each year.
Altamirano-Crosby said of all the year’s holidays, Dia de los Muertos “is my number one.”
It’s a chance to honor her grandparents, uncles and cousins who have passed away and to think about them.
She previously lived in the Mexican state of Guerrero on the Pacific coast.
“In the town where I was born we go to the cemetery and bring food and music and sit down next to our relatives,” she said. “You go back to your roots and culture.”
Without continuing to pass along such cultural traditions, Altamirano-Crosby said she fears they will be lost.
She said she hopes Saturday’s event is just the beginning of an annual Day of the Dead celebration in Snohomish County.
“We want to plant a seed and hopefully do it every year,” she said. “That is the idea.”
Sharon Salyer; 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
What: Day of the Dead Celebration and Contest
When: Noon to 5 p.m. Nov. 3
Where: Gray Wolf Hall, Everett Community College, 2000 Tower St., Everett
More: Email email@example.com or call 206-850-2329 by 6 p.m. Nov. 2.