During Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, sweet calaveras (sugar skulls) are placed on home altars. Names are written on the skulls that serve as a token of remembrance, and the deceased’s favorite foods and drinks are placed as ofrendas (offerings) for their return. You can learn more about these offerings that are based on the traditions of Meso-Americans and Catholicism during Día de los Muertos: Calaveras y Ofrendas, which will be held at the Museum of South Texas History on Saturday, Nov. 3, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The event will highlight the traditions of celebrating and honoring the deceased through a community altar exhibit, which will be on display from Nov. 3 to Nov. 18. The vibrant and festive centerpiece is an altar sponsored by the museum’s Collections Department. The altar will feature photographs of unidentified persons from the museum collection, which are currently housed in the Margaret H. McAllen Memorial Archives. Those nameless individuals will not only be honored and remembered but are a reminder of the importance of preservation practices and the need to document family photographs.
A tradition of this spectacular event is showcasing local talent on the performance stage, which will be located on the museum’s parking lot. Performances will include a variety of musicians and dancers from as far away as Roma and as close as Edinburg. Kicking off the event and performances is the Edinburg North High School Mariachi Oro, an award-winning high school mariachi.
Following the lively performance by Edinburg North High School, a new and special performance by Edinburg-based Conceptos Entidad Dancística, directed by Catí and Raul Gomez, will perform to the beats from Totome, a brother-and-sister musical duo. This talented duo from Tonalá, Jalisco, Mexico, mixes traditional Mexican music with electronic elements and other instruments from across the world. After this musical act, local folklórico groups such as Edinburg Folklórico Dance Team, PSJA North Grupo Folklórico Ichtequi, PSJA Liberty Middle School Grupo Folklórico Águila, PSJA LBJ Middle School Grupo Folklórico Tlacatsintli, PSJA North Early College High School and RGV Folklórico Dance Company will perform.
And, for the first time at the museum, local Tejano singer Veronique Medrano will perform at 5:20 p.m. Medrano launched her debut album “Encantadora” in 2013 and has since been nominated three times at the Tejano Music Awards. The Brownsville native will be available after the performance to sign copies of any one of her three albums including “Loteria” that can be purchased on site.
Grupo Folklórico Juvenil de Palmview and Las Palmas Community Center Ballet Folklórico will entertain the crowds with their energetic routines and colorful costumes. Following these two dance groups, Roma native Melenie Lissette Gonzalez will perform at 6:20 p.m. Earlier this year, Gonzalez was the first female teenager to win the Conjunto Grand Prize in the 2018 Texas Folklife Big Squeeze competition. She started playing accordion at the age of 14, and was taught by instructors Jesus and Jaime Lozano at Roma High School. Let’s see this talented young woman play!
Following Gonzalez, the final performances will include Grupo Folklórico Herencia de mi Tierra, Danzart Centro Dancístico, Edinburg North High School Ritmo Dorado, Mission Parks and Recreation Ballet Folklórico, Edinburg High School Ballet Folklórico Kuxtal and Grupo Folklórico Coyametl and El Mariachi Fuego Azul from PSJA Southwest Early College High School.
There will be plenty of family activities to enjoy inside and around the museum, in addition to dance and musical performances. Bring cash to purchase a sugar skull and decorate it with supplies provided by the museum. Free crafts and activities will include writing a memory of a loved one who has passed on a paper calavera (skull), decorating edible calaveritas made out of marshmallows, and creating your own paper calavera mask and cempasúchil (marigold) from tissue paper. Be sure to take photographs to remember all the fun at the life-sized monarch wings, eight-foot-tall flower archway and the station of Los Liberadores, a living-history group. If you want your children to learn more about Día de los Muertos, Book Buzz, a student literacy organization from UTRGV, will host book presentations in the River Highway gallery from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Also, be sure to make time to explore the signature Rio Grande Legacy exhibition, which will include museum volunteers in costumes, and discover the history of this bicultural region.
Bring your appetite, and plenty of cash, because artisan and food vendors will be stationed inside and outside the museum. Adding to the flavor and tradition of regional food is Qweenie RGV food truck, located in Elsa. The local food truck creates unique Valley hot dogs with different ingredients ranging from pepperoni to spicy chips. Nuri Food Truck, a local favorite, will return to serve Korean-Mexican fusion tacos: Nuri Taco, Korean Karnitas taco and Kimchi Rice with Fajita. But, if you want traditional regional dishes, you can opt for guisados en olla de barro (stew), pozole, elote en vaso (corn in a cup), roasted whole-ear corn, mango en flor (flower-cut mango), coco rayado, fresas con crema (strawberries in cream), pan dulce (sweet bread), raspas (snow cones), nieve Mexicana (Mexican ice cream) and calaveritas de chocolate (chocolate skulls). Pair your corn in a cup with an agua fresca drink, or taco with a soda, or delight in a sweet champurrado.
Although Día de los Muertos ends Nov. 2, it isn’t too late to purchase items for an altar. The Museum Store will sell a variety of Day of the Dead inspired mugs, calaveras, jewelry and more. Outside the Museum Store and throughout the museum, artisan vendors will sell goods such as flower headbands by Love Caroline O., jewelry by Madre Mia Designs, Oaxacan tops, laser-cut crosses by Emma’s Art Décor, jewelry from Iba Sisters Handmade, hand-embroidered jewelry from Cinco Wildflowers, ceramic skulls, silver jewelry from Guerrero, Mexico and Mexican imported pottery. You can also visit the pop-up botanica by Rio Grande Valley curandera Danielle López and discover the local beliefs in healing medicine and folklore. Get into the Día de los Muertos spirit by getting your face painted like a calavera (skull) at either face painting stations, Balloons and Faces or A Royal Celebration.
The special event admission fees are $8 for adults (ages 18+); $6 for seniors with ID (ages 62+), active military and students with ID (ages 13+); $5 for children (ages 4 to 12) and free for children ages 3 and younger. FRIENDS of MOSTHistory are admitted free as a benefit of FRIENDship and must provide an active FRIENDship card to enter free. For more information on the event or becoming a FRIEND, please call 956-383-6911 or visit www.mosthistory.org/events.
About Museum of South Texas History
The Museum of South Texas History is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. It is located in downtown Edinburg at 200 N. Closner Blvd. on the Hidalgo County Courthouse square. Hours of operation are from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday. Founded in 1967 as the Hidalgo County Historical Museum in the 1910 Hidalgo County Jail, the museum has grown over the decades through a series of expansions to occupy a full city block. In 2003, following the completion of a 22,500 square foot expansion, the museum was renamed the Museum of South Texas History to better reflect its regional scope. Today, the museum preserves and presents the borderland heritage of South Texas and Northeastern Mexico through its permanent collection and the Margaret H. McAllen Memorial Archives and exhibits spanning prehistory through the 20th century. For more information about MOSTHistory, including becoming a FRIEND, visit MOSTHistory.org, like us on Facebook, follow on Twitter, find on Google+ or call +1-956-383-6911.