This November, St Christopher’s Hospice will host free two-day drop-in celebration focused around ‘Día de los Muertos’ – or the ‘Day of the Dead’, as it is known to English speakers – in its recently opened Centre for Awareness and Response at End of Life in the heart of Sydenham.
St Christopher’s supporter Laura Saravia and her children Luciana, Liam and Santi will be supporting St Christopher’s with the community-based event on Monday and Tuesday of next week, joined by Laura’s friend, the Mexican Consul Aida Velazco, on Tuesday evening as they speak about the traditions and history of the celebration and remember Laura’s husband Andrew who died at the hospice last year, as well as their beloved ancestors from both sides of their families.
Laura said: “Having lived in Mexico for many years, where our three children were born, the Day of the Dead was always an annual celebration within our family and friends.
“When we moved to London, we brought all our ofrenda (altar) elements and turned it into a yearly gathering at our home, marking the day with huge displays of colour, smells and magic.
“We invited new friends to celebrate their loved ones with us as well. It was always a cherished event of remembrance and togetherness, with the big catrinas popping through our front windows, admired by all our neighbours.
When Andrew passed away last year, after spending his last month at St Christopher’s Hospice, we found a lot of comfort in having this holiday that acknowledges the presence of the dead in our lives and our continuing relationship with them.
“It helped us to have a rehearsed tradition to hold on to, where we could channel our grief in a less solemn setting, and where the dead can be named and celebrated.
“It gave us a path and a space to remember him, tell his stories, and eat the foods that he liked.
Our traditions don’t exclude sorrow or other difficult feelings, but perhaps gives us other emotions to focus on when remembering the people we love.”
Anybody is welcome to view the ofrenda in St Christopher’s CARE during the two days, which has been specially designed with flowers, candles, food, and decorative sugar skulls.
For more information see https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/day-of-the-dead-celebration-tickets-190516819937.