The coming months are full of iconic celebrations of both life and death. We'll see signs of harvest, hear talk of superstitions surrounding black cats and the number 13 (even though the next Friday the 13th isn't until January 2023), and get swept up in the fantastical as pop culture embraces witches, vampires, ghosts, werewolves, and zombies. While Halloween is almost entirely a secular holiday in modern times, its neighbors — All Saints Day and All Souls Day — are markedly Christian. Similarly, the Mexican celebration Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is steeped in Catholic tradition.
But that's not just a Mexican holiday. And honoring the dead isn't just for the religious. "To nontheists, our legacies are our afterlife. More and more people are abandoning their religious upbringing but still want to celebrate the beauty of their culture," Says Margaret Downey, founder of coalition member The Freethought Society. This desire to participate in cultural traditions without prayer and church attendance inspired Downey and others to cofound the Secular Day of the Dead for Hispanic-Americans who don't follow religion.
Images courtesy of Margaret Downey.
For 2022, author Fernando Alcantar is the key speaker, with actor Jon Huertas opening the program with a special message. Attendees will enjoy performances by Kaneko Leyva, Salvador Leon, Juan Antonio Garcia Hernandez, and Daniel Zepeda. Embrace the beauty of the holiday's traditional bright flowers and sugar skulls! Prizes will be awarded to the best Zoom box decor, face painting, honoring table, and hair/hat adornment.
Now in its seventh year, the Secular Day of the Dead has adapted brilliantly in the face of the pandemic. It transitioned into a fully virtual celebration of life held on Zoom in 2020. This year's bilingual event will be held on Wednesday, November 2, 2022, starting at 3:45 PM (PST)/6:45 PM (EST). Other sponsors are Center For Inquiry, Hispanic American Freethinkers, American Ethical Union, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation.