Garfield County Libraries celebrate Día de Muertos — the Day of the Dead

A member of the Aspen Ballet Folklorico stands amongst the crowd during Carbondale's Dia de los Muertos celebration in 2022.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Garfield County Libraries is celebrating Day of the Dead, or Día de Muertos. In Garfield County, two events are on Saturday. Another is slated for Friday, Nov. 3. 

Día de Muertos is celebrated mainly in Mexico, and prominently features the Calavera Catrina. 

The Calavera Catrina, the female skull persona, was originally a zinc etching as a satirical comment by lithographer, José Guadalupe Posada, who published it in 1913 in Mexico. 

Posada had originally intended this satirical comment to be directed at the wealthy elite, but unfortunately, due to how he did, it ended up criticizing working-class women who sold garbanzo beans, which were a food not native to Mexico. 

Diego Rivera placed the Catrina in a mural alongside himself as a young boy, the prolific artist Frida Kahlo, and Posada. The Catrina wears a feather rattlesnake boa, linking her with Quetzalcoatl, the Rainbow Serpent Mayan deity and Cōātlīcue, the Aztec mother goddess who wears snake skirts and birthed the moon. 

Because of this, the Catrina has become a symbol of Día de Muertos and is portrayed at these functions. Rivera presented the Catrina as being linked with older cultures, the Mayan and Aztec, with the Christian beliefs of the Spanish conquistadors, regardless of discussions on the origin of Día de Muertos.

The Catrina is central to the Día de Muertos celebrations and she’s accompanied by the male version of herself, El Catrin. Because of their presence in Día de Muertos, which honors those who have passed away, mostly ancestors, it creates a celebration of Mexican culture alongside the remembrance of family members long gone. 

Día de Muertos is celebrated by creating ofrendas, which are altars created for remembering people who have passed on. Usually these ofrendas are for family members, but some are for well-known people that were greatly admired. These altars are tiered.

The highest tier of the ofrenda holds a picture or depiction of the remembered person, usually alongside statues of the Virgin of Guadalupe (or Virgin Mary), various saints and crucifixes.

The second tier is to help the dead feel as if they’ve come home — their favorite food and drink might be on display, like candy or a sweetbread like pan dulce or a glass of tequila, if they are an adult. For children, usually favorite toys are placed on this level. 

The bottom tier will always have lit candles, but might also have a washbasin, mirror, towel and soap, so the deceased might refresh themselves upon arriving at the altar. Calaveras, or sugar skulls, are placed throughout the altar, along with yellow or gold marigolds, a flower from Aztec origin for the dead. 

Ofrendas usually have all four elements of the world represented on them; candles for fire, food from the earth, drink for water, and papel picado (perforated paper) to represent air, because it’s so light. Copal tree resin is burned as incense at these altars to scare evil spirits away.

Amaranda Fregoso, the manager at the Carbondale Branch Library, said this about why it’s important to hold events celebrating Día de Muertos. 

“Day of the dead is a celebration for everybody, a celebration of life and death,” she said. “It’s important to remember loved ones, and it’s not a division of Hispanic and anglo cultures; it’s a way to come together and teach people about our culture. Death is not scary, and it’s a way to come together as a community.”

Events coming up for celebrating Día de Muertos:


What: Day of the Dead Celebration

When: 5 p.m. Saturday 

Where: Parachute Branch Library at 244 Grand Valley Way

More Info: 

Glenwood Springs:

What: Family Creativity Lab: Dia de los Muertos Altar/Ofrenda Building Workshop

When: 1-4 p.m. Saturday 

Where: Glenwood Springs Branch Library at 815 Cooper Ave.

More Info: 


What: Carbondale Day of the Dead Parade

When: 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3 

Where: Carbondale Branch Library at 320 Sopris Ave.

More Info: 

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