Long after our loved ones have left, we often keep their memories close to our hearts. A special cultural event planned for next week, the Recuérdame ofrenda exhibition, will pay tribute to those who came before us. “Recuérdame” is Spanish for “remember me”.
The free educational event will feature the authentic Dia de los Muertos ofrendas (Day of the Dead offerings / altars) from October 27-30 at the cafeteria of the Lonnie Gillespie Memorial Annex, 25 E. Fifth St. in Leming. The public is invited to attend.
The opening reception will begin on Wednesday, October 27 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with an introduction by Atascosa County Historical Commission Chairman Martin Gonzales, an opening prayer by Ricky Reyes, followed by Judge Bob Hurley. The exhibition will continue from Thursday to Saturday, October 28-30 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Atascosa County Historical Commission Historic Preservation Officer Marie Levy and Certified Local Government Committee (CLG) are planning the event. Earlier this week, Levy was joined by Erlinda Huizar, Lupe Donato and Linda Leal at the Leming site to create fabric flowers, bake Pan de Muerto bread, and set up the exhibit.
Levy advertises the exhibit as “the first of its kind in Atascosa County”. She said that while she understands that there have been other Dia de los Muertos exhibitions and events held in Atascosa County, “What makes ours different is that it is about “an immersive exhibition. It will touch all your senses. It is intended to transport you to another dimension. Our intention is not only to create a unique experience, but to share the history and the meaning of celebration.”
She added: “Dia de los Muertos is a cultural thing and it has been so commercialized. We want to get back to the roots and what it really means.
The exposure is all the more significant given that the past year has been difficult with many people lost and affected by COVID-19, Levy noted.
“The ofrendas will be prepared in the traditional three-tiered manner with details to evoke the essence of those we have lost, prepared with love and respect and sometimes a touch of whimsy as we tell the story of their lives and their lives. their presence in Atascosa County, ”said Lévy.
The ofrendas will honor some of the county’s earliest families, officials, and the Atascosa County Historical Commission family. The ofrendas will include: the Navarro, Leal and Esparza families; Lonnie Gillespie, Percy Medina, David Prasifka, Norman Porter Sr., Louis Rodriguez, Gloria Jenks and Susan Levy.
The tours will be self-guided with signage to explain the tradition and tell the stories of each winner. Document guided tours will be available, but must be booked in advance. To book a tour, please call 210-846-1728.
The CLG committee also sells homemade Pan de Muerto bread to help raise funds to host free heritage lunches in 2022. The lunches will showcase the different cultures and ethnic groups in the county.
Bread is available now through November 1 and three days notice is required. The donation per loaf is $ 12, which serves approximately 12. To order, please call 210-322-5137 or 210-846-1728.
“The Pan de Muerto is an integral part of the celebration of the Dia de los Muertos. It is a delicate bread that resembles a giant conch shell. It’s a cross between a brioche and a pan de huevo, ”explained Levy. “It’s a yeast bread made with the best ingredients, including butter, eggs and milk, and delicately flavored with anise and orange. It is placed in the ofrenda as food for the deceased and is also meant to be shared with family and friends. We do not use any preservatives, so the bread is prepared as ordered. The shelf life can be up to five days in the refrigerator or up to three months in the freezer.
She said it tastes great when reheated in the microwave or broiled.
“It’s best served with coffee or hot chocolate. It can be enjoyed over breakfast or on a break, day or night, ”Levy said.
She also shared more about the Dia de Los Muertos tradition. It is based on ancient rituals of remembering and honoring the dead that date back thousands of years to the indigenous peoples of Mexico, from the Mayans to the Aztecs.
After the conquest of Mexico by Spain and the subsequent introduction of Christianity, the old tradition was merged with Catholic beliefs and the dates of celebration were changed to November 1 and 2 to coincide with the public holidays of the church: All Saints and All Saints.
The highly symbolic ofrendas are built in the houses but also in the cemetery to welcome the deceased.
Other components of the ofrendas include the papel picado, which is a decorative cut paper that represents the movement of air; marigolds in bright colors to symbolize the rays of the sun; copal incense, an element to attract spirits and monarch butterflies supposed to hold back the spirits of the deceased.
Ofrendas also features calaveras, or skulls; skeletons and La Catrina, an image created by José Guadalupe Posada during the Mexican Revolution. His creation was a simple head butt with an ornate French hat.
Levy said the end goal is to have enough interest in a festival in the future to showcase the county’s rich heritage.
Levy said, “One thing leads to another. It is our mission, to bring history closer to people and let them know that we have a rich culture and to learn more about it.