Sandy puts Day of the Dead celebrations on hold
Calaveritas -- sugar skulls -- would be a typical part of New York and New Jersey Day of the Dead celebrations.
November 1st, 2012
04:17 PM ET

Sandy puts Day of the Dead celebrations on hold

By Cindy Y. Rodriguez, CNN

(CNN) - Sugar skulls, specially adorned altars and fresh pan de muertos have to take a rain check around New York and New Jersey today because of Superstorm Sandy.

Just as many places in the Northeast put Halloween trick-or-treating on hold, the same is happening for Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos. The traditionally Mexican holiday is typically celebrated the first two days in November to honor family and friends who have passed away.

Although celebrations are happening in other places with large Latino populations - Chicago, Miami, and many cities in California and Texas - it's a blow to New York and New Jersey. About 18% of the populations of New York and New Jersey are Hispanic, according to the Pew Hispanic Center's 2010 state demographic profiles. In both states, 14% of Hispanics are of Mexican origin, the profiles reported.

“There is no power in the Lower East Side and we cannot have any activities until power is restored due to safety reasons,” New York nonprofit Mano a Mano’s Facebook page and Twitter updates said in English and Spanish.

Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders, said its celebration could go forward on November 3, if power is restored. If it's a go, organizers will remake St. Mark Church-in-the-Bowery yard to include an altar building, workshops, dance, poetry and music.

Mano a Mano is not alone. The Mexican Cultural Institute of New York and the National Museum of the American Indian cancelled Day of the Dead events today and tomorrow. All three organizations depended on social media to get the word out.

“We regret to inform you that due to the after effects of Hurricane Sandy, the events scheduled for this Friday, November 2nd at the Galeria Octavio Paz... will be postponed until further notice," The Mexican Cultural Institute of New York posted online. The nonprofit organization and New York cultural branch of the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs planned to have a Day of the Dead altar honoring Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes and to launch an exhibition of cemetery photographs Lourdes Pérez de Ovando, "Funerary Architecture: Mexico’s Cultural Heritage."

The National Museum of the American Indian was closed, with all Day of the Dead events cancelled, but reported some good news on its Facebook page: “The building and collection are in good health!”

There is a light at the end of the tunnel for some hoping to celebrate: East Harlem, home of El Museo del Barrio. Often referred to as “El Museo”  - the museum - it's home to Latin American and Caribbean art focusing on the Puerto Rican history and community in New York City.

“Our galleries are OPEN today and will be open during normal business hours throughout the weekend,” El Museo posted on its Facebook page. “Parents with kids out of school, and neighbors who haven't been able to get to work because of the subway – we invite you to come spend the day at El Museo!”

A short walk away from El Museo, La Casa Azul Bookstore, a Latino bookstore, announced it would host its own celebration wit art activities for kids, calavera face paint, a community altar and samples of pan de muerto and hot chocolate.

"Sandy spared our little house of books!" it posted on Facebook. "Some events were cancelled but this Friday and Saturday's events are still ON!"

Are you celebrating Day of the Dead this year? Were your celebrations upset by Superstorm Sandy? Tell us about it in the comments.

Posted by
Filed under: Family • How we live • Latino in America
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Jorge

    In Puerto Rico the Day of the Dead is not a holiday, it's a day to visit the graves of our dearly departed, to remember them and the vows we made to them, to clean their gravesites and to place fresh flowers over their tombs, and to pray for them. It's a day of tears for many.

    November 5, 2012 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  2. Ping

    American's do not celebrate this. Why is it a story?

    November 4, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      I'm an American and I celebrate. Who are to say what Americnan celebrate? Look at what this blog is about.

      November 4, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jorge

      Speak for yourself, Ping, speak for yourself. News flash, not every American needs to believe exactly like you.

      November 5, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. Sebastian

    Day of the Dead, Dia de Muertos in Spanish (Dia de Los Muertos is a translation of the English name and Los is added traditionally it is Dia de Muertos) is a ancestral celebration that honors the loved ones who passed. Originally it was a 40 day celebration that took place at the end of summer in August. The Spaniards change it to coinside with the catholic celebration of all souls day.

    It's not 100% Christian or pagan. It is a celebration of life and a way to honor our ancestors. The celebration was rescheduled because of a hurricane and lack of power-safety reasons! Yes many people are not informed and I can't inform in a post but doing some research and going to a celebration may help you understand better.


    November 3, 2012 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
  4. kyphi

    Many people are misinformed about Dias de los Muertos. It is not a pagan ritual (unless you want to count Christmas and Easter as pagan), and the full moon has nothing to do with it. Although more celebrated in Mexico, other countries celebrate it as well. Two days, always Nov. 1 and Nov. 2, are set aside to honor and celebrate dead family members; one for children and one for everyone else. Most of the time the families go to the cemeteries to have picnics and clean the graves. They share happy stories involving the dead. They accept that death is part of life and nothing to fear.
    Home alters include a picture of the dead one, candles, and offerings for what the person enjoyed. They also usually include a cross. Please notice that all pictures and sugar skulls have happy expressions. Even though I am of northern European descent, I love this happy celebration of the strength of family!

    November 2, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • orville the flying cat

      This "celebration" along with Christmas and Easter are completely and utterly pagan. Read your history books.

      November 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ReasonWithValues

    I am sorry to hear this. But I wonder, if like the Pagan rituals, does not the "Rites for the Dead" require the ful moon in October that symbolizes the day when the "veil" between the living and the dead is weak or thin so certain energies created by certain rites can reach the other side, and the good spirits of our ancestors can come and give their blessings to us? Can it be done anytime as scheduled, or does it not depend on the way the sun, moon, the seasons and the stars configure. Is everything to be done on a Sunday, a Saturday or convenient day for the leaders or bosses of America? That does not sound like a good way to celebrate culture n America.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |