We live in a great big diverse country and nowhere is that diversity clearer than in some of the holidays we celebrate.
We were reminded of that again while paging through our Main Streets Across America initiative that we published earlier this year that was designed to celebrate the heart of communities in every state.
Our pick for Arizona was Mesa, and it is getting ready to celebrate its Dia de los Muertos Festival this Saturday and Sunday.
Translated from Spanish, this is the Day of the Dead holiday tradition.
This is a holiday that much of Latin America celebrates, something the Spanish conquistadores brought with them. But it’s best known as a Mexican tradition. National Geographic tells us that’s probably because Mexico is where it all got started.
Unlike some myths, Dia de los Muertos is hardly a morbid observance. Instead, it’s a time to celebrate and honor those who have died with festivals, foods and drinks that those who have passed on enjoyed in life.
The actual holiday spreads over two days, Nov. 1 and 2, the first honoring children who have died and the second adults.
The holiday celebrations get started a little bit early in Mesa, which marks the occasion with its festival on Oct. 22 and 23.
Mesa is a great example of how rich Latin American traditions have also become well established in the United States, especially in the Southwest.
In Mesa, there will be a mercado, or market, with merchandise, jewelry, arts and crafts. There is a variety of music and other performing arts on tap. And, of course, there will be food and, we’re sure, plenty of it!
This festival is another reminder to us why main streets are so important to us in the U.S. Main Street is the sometimes mythical image we often conjure in our mind when we think of community.
It’s where we gather for community events, or where we go to shop, and where we live. It’s where we celebrate the diversity that is America.
That’s why the Main Streets Across America project has been so fun for us here at National Life. It’s given us a chance to travel across the country, at least metaphorically, learning something about other towns and cities.
We kind of wish we could be in Mesa this weekend to join in on the fun!
The photo of the Dia de los Muertos Festival in Mesa, Ariz., is courtesy of the Mesa Arts Center.