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Dia de Muertos Celebration – (Article by Zarela Martinez, chef-owner of Zarela Restaurant)
To Mexicans, the holiday of Los Dias de los Muertos is neither ghoulish nor morbid. It is a joyous celebration of memory and an opportunity to catch up on those who are dear to you as Johnny Carson was to Zarela. Traditional ofrendas (offerings) placed on Los Dias de los Muertos altar often consist of the deceased’s favorite food, any creature comforts the person might be missing in the next life and a picture of the loved one. In keeping with tradition, Zarela will honor Johnny by placing mementos of his life on her altar

This richly visual and lively holiday began hundreds of years ago when many peoples in Mexico celebrated a pre-Hispanic festival in August and September to ask the intervention of departed ones in warding off early frost. Like Halloween, the holiday conveniently migrated through the Christian calendar to coincide with the Catholic feasts of All Saints and All Souls Days at the beginning of November. The spirit of the holiday remained seeped in ancient pagan tradition.

As with all Mexican holidays, food plays an important role, both as an offering to the dead and as sustenance for the living much as turkey and stuffing are for Americans celebrating Thanksgiving. Many of the traditional dishes are pre-Columbian, including a sweet pumpkin dessert called calabaza en tacha, some form of tamales, and the premier celebratory dish, mole. But the most famous specialty of the day throughout Mexico is of European origin. Modeled after Christian feast-day offering altar breads, Mexicans put an overlay of fantasy and shaped the loaves into different images. The famous pan de muerto (bread of death) comes in the shape of human figures, alligators, lizards, and other animals -- but most often skulls and crossbones or teardrops and crosses, gaily decorated with colored sugar crystals.

The holiday is celebrated by most Mexican cultural institutions and our member restaurants in the city, with each putting their particular spin on the occasion.

Zarela, is a renowned Mexican cooking authority and cultural interpreter between the United Stated and Mexico.


Calpulli Children's Dance Workshop
Fall/ Winter Session: September 8th - December 8th, 2007
Saturdays, 11:30AM - 1:00PM
Information: 718-507-2617 or

At Mestizo Art Center in Astoria,
Queens 36-50 38th St. (between Northern Blvd and 36th St.)

Calpulli Mexican Dance Co. announces its final of three sessions in 2007 of its children's dance workshop to be held September through December. Children 5 to 8 years and 8 to 13 years of age participate in culturally-enriching classes based on Mexican dance. The classes focus on regional dances from Mexico along with lessons in history, culture, language, and dance movement. The program is by voluntary donation. All families are invited to bring their children to this unique arts experience made up of fun, exercise, and learning.

Directions : R/ G/ V trains to 36th St., then two blocks to 38th St and Northern Blvd;
Bus Q66 to 38th St in Astoria, Queens

Calpulli Mexican Dance Co. is a not-for-profit organization based in Queens. Its mission is to teach and produce dance based programming incorporating live music and theatre to promote a diverse image of Mexican cultural heritage.


Fundraiser for Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders at Rocking Horse Café!

Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders invites you to our annual Day of the Dead Party at Rocking Horse Café (182 Eighth Avenue), Tuesday, October 23, 5:00 -7:45 PM. Auction of artists’ altars and luxury items, delicious margaritas and Mexican hors d’oeuvres.

Tickets: $50 at:

Info at:

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