October is becoming a key month for Kulttuurikeskus Ninho, as it marks the celebration of an event that it’s already a classic for our association and Helsinki. On its 2nd edition, the ‘Día de Muertos’ program took place in Oodi, from 28.10 to 5.11, featuring a beautiful traditional Altar, and a Family Day with numerous activities for the whole family.
The Day of the Dead, or Día de Muertos in Spanish, an ancient tradition from Mexico and other Central American countries, is gaining popularity every year in Finland. So much so that in 2023, the Ministry of Education and Culture, through the Finnish Heritage Agency Museovirasto, officially recognized Día de Muertos as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in Finland. This marked the first time that traditions associated with immigrant cultures were included in Finland’s national inventory.
As an association involved in the recognition process, we are very excited about the news, and so grateful to all the people, inside and outside our association, who, with their work and commitment have made Día de Muertos a Finnish tradition. Specially to Mexican artist Rosamaría Bolom, who led the bid to Museovirasto, and invited Ninho to collaborate.
With this spirit of double celebration, this 2023, we showcased our program at Oodi Library, in Kuutio Room, where hundreds of people had the opportunity to learn the origins of the Day of the Dead, its famous Altars, and much more!
‘Altar del Día de Muertos’:
From 28.10 to 5.11, Kuutio Room held the beautiful ‘Exhibition Altar del Día de Muertos’, set up in Oodi’s Kuutio Room by the Embassy of Mexico in Finland.
The Altar was opened by Mr. Enrique Rojo-Stein, Ambassador of Mexico in Finland, and many friends joined us. The event featured two ‘Altares’ full of traditional elements, such as food, crosses, candles, and ceramic little sculptures, among other things.
The Mexican States of Guanajuato, Estado de México, and Michoacán sent many pieces that were exhibited on the Altars. The clay pieces and crosses were sent directly from the Mexican state of Guanajuato. The State of Mexico sent sugar skulls and other colourful pieces. The Embassy showcased vibrant skulls, providing us with insight into the evolution of the tradition and its influence on various artistic expressions.
We were also lucky to have the amazing visual art ‘Papel Picado’, designed by Mexican Julio Orduña Sánchez.
One of the Altars was dedicated in honor of the dance teacher, artist, and entrepreneur, Aira Samulin (FI), who passed away in October 2023. The other one was dedicated to the Mexican writer Octavio Paz, marking the 25th anniversary of his passing.
During the exhibition, visitors had also the opportunity to leave their offerings and understand the tradition thanks to explanatory videos.
A Family Day to live the tradition together:
On 4.11, the traditional Family Day took place also in Kuutio Room and the Children’s area, where families could visit the Altars, enjoy dance performances, storytelling sessions in Spanish and Finnish, and an art workshop.
We enjoyed the dance performance ‘Calaveritas’, featured by Paola Nieto (MX), Laura Amaya (SLV), and Claudia Herrera-Rosales (MX).
During the Family Day, children could create their own little ‘Altar’, thanks to the art workshop designed by Mexican designer Mariana Núñez Sánchez.
Members of Kulttuurikeskus Ninho ry read stories for children and their families.
Alicia Sevilla (MX) led the storytelling in Spanish and our volunteer Taru Adler (FI) in Finnish.
Closing party with Mexican music:
Mexican guitarist, Alan Guerra, closed the Día de Muertos program with the concert ‘Animals from Mexico; a guitar bestiary’.
A beautiful musical show that marked the European premiere of a repertoire consisting of songs composed by contemporaries Mexican authors.
A compilation of musical pieces that told us a story about some of the animals that live in the northwest desert of Mexico. Each one of the pieces was written by a different Mexican composer that, altogether, took us on a journey through the landscapes of the different states of the country, where these animals inhabit: Sinaloa, Durango, Sonora, Baja California, Coahuila and Chihuahua.
We hope that all families enjoyed the activities, and the hundreds of people who visited the Altars had the chance to better understand the tradition and the beauty that is making it well known worldwide.
See you all next year to celebrate the 3rd edition of Día de Muertos in Helsinki!
This was a Kulttuurikeskus Ninho ry production, in cooperation with the Embassy of Mexico and Oodi, supported by the City of Helsinki.
Coordination: Claudia Herrera-Rosales.
Images design: Mariana Núñez Sánchez.