Celebrate Día de Muertos at library & in community

Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated on November 1 and 2. An ofrenda (altar) is built to honor, celebrate, and remember the dearly departed.

Through November 4, you can view ofrendas in the Main Library Idea Box and at Dole Branch. Also below, you can learn more about the community ofrendas you can visit in Oak Park and River Forest.

Celebrating our loved ones in the Main Library Idea Box

A community ofrenda is now on display in the Main Library Idea Box through November 4. 

Main Library Idea Box ofrenda, celebrating loved ones

Traditional decorations in the space include papel picado, colorful paper that has designs cut into it, and marigolds made out of tissue paper.

On the walls are monarch butterflies, which are traditionally said to hold the souls of ancestors.

Framed on the walls, we have hung photos of loved ones who have died. These photos have been submitted by community members.

Honoring environmental activists at Dole Branch

The ofrenda at Dole Branch honors the work of land activists murdered in Latin America.

Framed picture of protest against attacks on Latin American environmental activists, set on a Dia de Muertos ofrenda with candles, paper marigolds, and paper monarch butterflies
Ofrenda at Dole Branch, honoring environmental activists killed in Latin America

Through our research, we found that Latin America is the deadliest region in the world for environmental activists.

What’s more, many of those individuals murdered are indigenous people fighting to prevent the exploitation of their lands.

In 2021, there were a documented 177 murders in Latin American countries alone. Research indicates that the figures underestimate the true scale of violence.

Ofrenda with candles, monarch butterflies, marigolds, bowls, framed photo
Dole Branch ofrenda

Each of the 177 individuals’ names are included in the ofrenda, with monarch butterflies symbolizing the return of their spirits. We have also included many earth elements to honor the planet they worked so fiercely to protect.

For example, tree branches act as a canopy to shelter and protect everyone. We include bowls of soil, as the foundation from which life grows; milkweed pods, which are essential to the monarch butterfly’s migration and life cycle; salt to symbolize the earth’s riches; and materials from past Dia de Muertos celebrations, to connect the past to the present and future.

Community ofrendas in Oak Park & River Forest

From Sunday, October 30 to Saturday, November 5, you can view outdoor ofrendas around Oak Park and River Forest. This annual event is organized by Ofrendas de Dia de Muertos en Oak Park & River Forest, in which members of the community put effort into planning and honoring their loved ones, while showcasing their Día de Muertos tradition and culture.

Everyone is welcome to visit the outdoor ofrendas.

About the organizers

Ofrendas de Dia de Muertos en Oak Park & River Forest is organized by a group of Latina women including creator Alma Martinez, in partnership with Oak Park and River Forest residents and businesses, Oak Park Elementary School District 97, the Collaboration for Early Childhood, the Oak Park Public Library, and the Village of Oak Park.

Omeyocan Dance Company performance

The Omeyocan Dance Company performed for a full house in the Main Library Veterans Room on Sunday, October 30. Oak Park’s Ofrendas de Dia de Muertos en Oak Park & River Forest worked with us to bring the Aztec dancers to the library, where they performed the Battle Dance for Día de Muertos.

Omeyocan Dance Company performers posed for photos after the performance

About the Battle Dance

Based on Aztec mythology, the Battle Dance features two Aztec warriors. When one of the warriors perishes, his soul is greeted by another soul who leads him to his next life in the Aztec underworld of Mictlan, where the dead dwell. The sequence ends when the souls who reside in Mictlan perform the Day of the Dead Dance. 

Learn more about the Omeyocan Dance Company »

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