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Día de los Muertos celebration in East Boston

Angela Rowlings
Día de los Muertos celebration in East Boston
Genesis Hernandez, 9, participates in the Veronica Robles Cultural Center’s Día de los Muertos parade. PHOTO: ANGELA ROWLINGS

Despite a steady rain, the annual Día de los Muertos celebration took place with a parade, crafts for children, face painting, dance performances and live bands at the Veronica Robles Cultural Center (VROCC) in East Boston on Saturday.

Beatriz Contreras places her father’s photo on an altar at the Día de los Muertos celebration to honor loved ones who have passed away. PHOTO: ANGELA ROWLINGS

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a multi-day holiday that originated among Indigenous cultures of Mexico and is syncretized with Christianity’s All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween), All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Family and friends typically gather to remember loved ones who have passed away. Altars (ofrendas) in homes are adorned with marigolds, photos, food, drink and other items that were special to the departed. People also celebrate in cemeteries with music, family picnics and decorative offerings on tombstones. Friends share sweet pan de muertos (bread of the dead) and decorated sugar skulls. Since the early 20th century, many celebrants dress as La Catrina, a satirical character with a painted skeleton face in fancy clothing and hats or flower crowns meant to poke fun at the rich.

Children wave from a float during the Día de los Muertos parade in East Boston. PHOTO: ANGELA ROWLINGS

“For us in Mexico, it’s an opportunity to honor our loved ones, but also to face death,” said Veronica Robles, who co-founded VROCC and has organized Día de los Muertos celebrations for 20 years in Chelsea and Boston.

Robles said the event brings the community together. She pointed out that in addition to Mexican Americans, Salvadorans, Colombians and newcomers to East Boston also joined in the car parade before taking in festivities at the center.

Patricia Spring records a dance with her son, Octavio Spring, 7, during the Día de los Muertos celebration at the Veronica Robles Cultural Center. Photo: Angela Rowlings

“I think it is uniting us now more than ever, because everyone wants to make visible their respect for the people who passed away from COVID,” said Robles. “People just want to be part of something that honors the dead, their loved ones, in this way.”

Día de los Muertos, east boston, Veronica Robles Cultural Center