Utah families honor COVID-19 victims during Día de los Muertos
This Día de los Muertos, many Latino families plan to celebrate their loved ones who died from COVID-19.
Driving the news: The holiday — widely observed in Mexico and by Mexican Americans in the U.S. from Nov. 1-2 — comes as the state emerges out of a deadly pandemic that disproportionately impacted Latino communities.
- Latinos account for about 15% of the state population, but nearly 18% of reported COVID-19 cases statewide, according to data from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services.
Details: Day of the Dead is steeped in Mesoamerican culture and Catholic tradition and dates back some 3,000 years, according to History.com.
- The holiday is a celebration for family members and friends to remember their loved ones by building ofrendas, or altars, adorned with photos of the deceased and their favorite foods and belongings.
- It is believed that spirits of the deceased visit the living world during the two-day holiday.
State of play: During the pandemic, digital ofrendas gained popularity because they allowed families to celebrate the holiday while social distancing.
- As COVID-19 hospitalizations slow down this year, more families plan to visit community altars.
Go deeper: West Jordan resident Rocio Mejia, who hails from the Mexican state of Michoacán, plans to remember her siblings, parents and grandparents.
- While she hasn't personally lost a relative due to COVID, Mejia said she's met multiple Latino families still reeling from their loved one's fight with the virus.
What they're saying: "It's the largest celebration of life in Mexican culture," Mejia told Axios in Spanish.
- She added that ofrendas typically feature three levels that represent the past, present and future.
Of note: Mejia and her nonprofit, Una Mano Amiga, are also behind the Day of the Dead festival in Trolley Square slated for Nov. 2.
The latest: The Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs will feature a Day of the Dead display made by Mejia at the Utah Capitol's Hall of Governors from 8am to 6pm today and Wednesday.
- It will honor the approximate 5,000 Utahns who have died from COVID-19.
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