The Day of the Dead, that macabre-but-also-festive tradition from Mexico, will be observed locally with displays and workshops at the the Pelham Art Center, New Rochelle Library and Hudson River Museum in Yonkers.
The Pelham center is holding an art workshop Saturday, and the Yonkers museum has a day of events scheduled Sunday. The library‘s Dia de Los Muertos display runs Sunday through Nov. 4.
Mexican families pay respects to their ancestors with home altars decorated with marigolds, favorite foods, and fruits. Zafiro Acevedo, who is organizing the Yonkers and Pelham events with her mother, Aurelia Fernandez, described the tradition to me two years ago.
Here’s more on the celebration and its roots. If you’re looking to create your own celebration at home, here’s what to eat.
(Photo courtesy of New Rochelle Public Library)
Mexicans are celebrating the bicentennial of independence from Spain this week. The mood leading up to “El Grito” is mixed, in part because of security fears in the context of a violent crime wave.
Here, Mexican-Americans are preparing to celebrate, though the tone seems likewise subdued. Independence Day is Thursday. There’s a cultural festival Saturday at the Yonkers Riverfront Library. I caught up with a group of children in Yonkers who were rehearsing traditional dances. Here is 8-year-old Angie Millan, whose grandmother was born in Morelos.
Belen Fernandez said she’s thrilled to see her American-born granddaughter learning the same dances she learned as a child. The group’s repertoire includes the “dance of the old people” – hence the canes.
The event is being organized by a new nonprofit called Telpochcalli and ArtsWestchester’s Folk Arts Program. Zafiro Acevedo, below, is hosting the event and her mother, “Pinata Lady” Aurelia Fernandez, is leading the workshops. For details, see this ArtsWestchester page.
The New York Times reports on the president’s latest response to questions about the timing of an immigration overhaul. President Barack Obama said the issue will take priority only next year, after health care reform.
His comments came during a summit in Guadalajara with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Zafiro Romero and her mother, Aurelia Fernandez, are out today at the Hudson River Museum and the Pelham Art Center, sharing, explaining and celebrating the Mexican tradition of El Dia de los Muertos.Â Aurelia, a folk artist from Morelos, kept her traditions alive when she and her family came to Yonkers. Now she’s become a familiar face at festivals around the area. Earlier in the week, Zafiro gave me a vivid description of the Day of the Dead as it is celebrated by her Mexican family. Here’s a short clip from our conversation. Click here for my story in the Journal News.
In these photos, Zafiro and Aurelia are setting up an altar at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers. As Zafiro told me, the plastic decorations can’t compare with the fresh marigolds, fruits and candies in Mexico. Click here to see an L.A. Times blog post about the scene in Mexico City’s zocalo.
Fruits, marigolds and candy skulls are among the decorations.
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How will the U.S. economic crisis affect immigration? We’re starting to see some indicators. The Bank of Mexico has been tracking remittances by migrants for more than a decade, and last month it saw the largest drop ever, reports AP.
Mexicans abroad (mostly in the United States) sent back $2.2 billion in August 2007. Last month that figure was down 12 percent, to $1.9 billion.
Economic turmoil in the United States, increased deportations are among the factors.
In New York, the advocacy group AsociaciÃ³n Tepeyac is calling for support programs in Mexico that would help returning migrants re-establish themselves. “Given the difficult economic conditions in which many immigrants are living in the US, during this time of economic recession, thousands of Mexican immigrants will be returning to their home towns,” the organization said in a release today.
During a tour this morning of the Yonkers Public Schools’ new Vive school at 75 Riverdale Ave. schools Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio explained that the Yonkers Pathways to Success, an adult education program based at Vive, has received support from the Mexican consulate. Pierorazio explained that the Mexican government has given the district books and other materials.
“The goal is to have Mexican nationals assimilate into the community,” Pierorazio said.
The district’s evening adult education programs begin on Sept. 17 at the Enrico Fermi school at 27 Poplar St. and at the PEARLS Hawthorne school at 350 Hawthorne Ave. The Fermi school will focus exclusively on English as a Second Language classes, while PEARLS will offer computing, English, GED, pre-GED classes and basic adult education. Day adult education begins in October at Vive. For more information or registration, call 914-376-8600.
When you hold a Hispanic festival in Westchester, you have a lot of nationalities to cover.
This year’s 27th Annual Hispanic Heritage Festival on Sunday will include singer Jorge YÃ©pez from Ecuador, Gran Murga Uruguaya from Uruguay and Mariachi Aguila y Plata from Mexico, to name a few. Click here for details. Here’s a video recap of last year’s festival, with Alfredo DueÃ±as singing the theme song called “Somos,” or “We Are.”
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Read on for an English translation of the lyrics, which were written by Alfredo’s wife, Mariana. They wanted the song to get to the common ground shared by immigrants.
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The House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism held a hearing today on border security. In response to these hearings the Immigration Policy Center released two fact sheets yesterday. The first one argues that immigration enforcement without immigration reform doesn’t work. The second one compares immigration enforcement with economic integration.
The Media Matters Action Network released a report today about immigration myths and cable news. Fear & Loathing in Prime Time is a study of the rhetoric used by cable news show hosts like Lou Dobbs and Bill O’Reilly when they discuss crime, NAFTA, Mexico or other issues that they associate with illegal immigration. Among the most outrageous myths that these shows peddle is the “North American Union,” a fictional proposal to merge the U.S., Canada and Mexico into one government similar to the European Union. The report notes that Lou Dobbs has discussed this fictional union on 56 separate programs over the past two years. Click here to view the report.
Cinco de Mayo festivities get started this weekend in White Plains and Yonkers. On Friday, Ballet Folklorico Espiritu de Mexico will perform regional folk dances, accompanied by Mariachi Solido de Mexico at the Westchester Arts Council’s Arts Exchange in White Plains. More details are here at westarts.com.
On Sunday is the tenth annual Alma de Mexico – Spirit of Mexico celebration in Yonkers, from 1 to 5 p.m. at Untermyer Park. On the bill are dance, music, a mole poblano cooking demo, and the Chinelos masked dancers of Yonkers “performing in the style of Tlayacapan, Morelos State, and depicting the invading â€˜Dragoonsâ€™ of Emperor Maximilian in the 1863 battle of Puebla.” Here’s a video preview.
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In New York City, the Mexican Parade will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday on 110th Street and Central Park West and will head south.