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Children create their own Dia de los Muertos-themed jewelry on the steps of the Artesia Historical Museum in this 2012 photo. (Photo by Jennifer Duff)

Children create their own Dia de los Muertos-themed jewelry on the steps of the Artesia Historical Museum in this 2012 photo. (Photo by Jennifer Duff)

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is going to be celebrated on Oct. 24 at the Artesia Historical Museum and Art Center, and YOU are invited to join us for an afternoon of come-and-go activities, traditional refreshments, AND lots of fun.

Día de los Muertos is a traditional Mexican and South American holiday that combines ancient Aztec, Spanish and Catholic beliefs — it has nothing to do with Halloween, as many people think! More than 3,000 years ago, the Aztecs had a variety of ceremonies to honor their dead, and these traditions were blended in with the practices introduced by the Catholic Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century (Halloween is a European tradition that evolved from fall harvest festivals).

The holiday honors our loved ones that have passed away and is a celebration of the cycle of life and death — it acknowledges that death is a part of life and that no one is truly dead unless they are forgotten. During this time each year, celebrants can welcome the memories of those who are gone with affection and respect. Part of the fun of the celebration is the opportunity to laugh at ourselves and our human frailties by seeing our daily activities mimicked by smiling calaveras (skeletons).

Another important aspect of Día de los Muertos is the opportunity for artistic expression.

Crafting and handmade decorations have a long tradition in Día de los Muertos celebrations. Many communities decorate their loved ones’ graves with bright tissue paper flowers and other gifts, and personalized memorials are created as tributes to those who are gone. Elaborately decorated sugar skulls are displayed in shop windows, and necklaces, pins, hats, clothing, earrings and just about anything else you can think of feature smiling calaveras.

We are especially excited to have some new activities this year, as well as our old favorites. We’ll have plenty of sugar skulls to decorate — in living dead colors with glitter! We have art masks to decorate and customize, temporary tattoos, fabulous jewelry to make, two kinds of ornaments to customize, plus chalk art and traditional designs to color. We’ll have a selfie station set up for everyone to take their own photos of their cool look and refreshments on hand for everyone to sample.

Please plan to join us from 1- 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24. Call 748-2390 for more information, and don’t forget to come in costume!

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Nancy Dunn is the manager of the Artesia Historical Museum and Art Center.)