on October 19, 2015 at 10:52 AM
What looks like Halloween but isn’t about scaring — just caring?
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Black-eyed sugar skulls and dancing papier mâché skeletons are now so commonplace in American culture, it’s easy to forget these symbols have nothing to do with our Halloween.
Nah, El Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) isn’t about scaring — it’s about caring.
“It is a joyful Mexican tradition — a time for families to gather and welcome the souls of deceased love ones who, it is believed, return to visit the living,” says Irma Bohórquez-Geisler, who is marking more than two decades as founding executive director of the free “Staten Island El Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) Festival.”
Her cultural celebration has traveled the North Shore over the last two decades, from the old Cromwell Center to Snug Harbor. This year’s day-long fiesta takes place at Our Lady of Mount Carmel-St. Benedicta School.
“On this day, Mexican families and the larger Staten Island community come together to remember departed loved ones and celebrate their lives, with flowers, art, altars, live music and dances,” Bohórquez-Geisler says.
The fun begins in the morning with the construction and decoration of two ofrendas (altars) to honor the dead. Visitors are asked to bring photos of deceased loved ones, objects that once belonged to them, as well as their favorite drink, food or flower. A second ofrenda will be constructed displaying regional traditions from the Mexican state of Morelos.