Celebrated in Mexico for centuries, Dia de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead) recognizes the memory of friends and family members who have passed from this world but remain present in the hearts of the living. Commonly observed from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, Dia de los Muertos is marked by gorgeously decorated altars—known as ofrendas—parades, food, and time spent with family.
Along with many others in San Antonio, your Chamber has thrown ourselves headfirst into the traditions and practices of the age-old holiday. In our office lobby, staff erected two ofrendas—replete with Aztec marigolds, candles, food and beverage, brightly colored blankets, and photos of the recent and revered deceased. On one ofrenda, your Chamber pays tribute to prominent San Antonio individuals in the fields of business, politics, and culture, including former Mayor Lila Cockrell, jazz musician Jim Cullum, and our very own previous Vice President of Finance Imelda Davis. Smaller arrays of portraits showcasing every late former Chamber Chair from our 125-year history are included as well. In addition to this main ofrenda, we have constructed a second altar to include photos dedicated to friends and family of Chamber employees.
In accordance with Mesoamerican spiritual customs and beliefs, placing a portrait and items pleasing to the deceased on an ofrenda permit the individual to return from the spirit world and maintain their memory among the living. Dia de los Muertos is a deeply personal, religious, and cultural celebration, with strong ties to Mexican culture and identity, stretching from the land’s earliest inhabitants to present day observers.
Outside our office, we have added some Day of the Dead banners, and underneath one of the banners sits one of many large painted calaveras , which cropped up earlier this week. Our particular skull is blue with beautiful iconography from the popular card game Loteria, including the sun, the moon, and Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The work was created by Mexican artist Efraín Castro Calderón.
With excitement building throughout the week, Chamber staff are looking forward to watching the river parade just outside our office. With family and friends arriving after work hours, the already lively Chamber of Commerce will have revelry, joy, and a solemn remembrance abound, as we welcome the ones we have lost back to our mortal realm for one night.