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Midvale Journal

Day of the Dead celebration hosted at Tyler Library

Dec 01, 2023 12:13PM ● By Annabelle Larsen

Aztec dancers in headdress. (Annabelle Larsen/City Journals)

The Day of the Dead celebration, also known as the Dia De Los Muertos, is a celebration originating in central America that is used to honor and memorialize those who have passed on. 

The Midvale local library, the Ruth Vine Tyler Library, hosted a Day of the Dead Celebration at the beginning of November, and boasted a significant turnout of Utah residents. Library employees mentioned that the creation of this event for the Tyler and Kearns libraries came from a desire to honor the Latino communities in these areas. 

Davie Bird, the Tyler Library manager, said “it is our most attended event, and definitely our loudest event,” he mentioned with a chuckle. This event brought in over 200 people within the first hour of the three-hour event, and only grew from there as various forms of entertainment poured in as well. 

For seven years Tyler Library has hosted this celebration, and each year the turnout is amazing. One employee mentioned there was a bit of a dip in attendance during Covid-19, but with exciting events like a mariachi band, an Aztec dance group, Mexican-style hot chocolate, and pan dulce, or more specifically, pan de muerto (a sweet bread, or “bread of the dead”). With all these attractions, people couldn’t stay away for long.

Event organizer and 13-year library employee, Maria Sommer, was in attendance. When asked about her inspiration for creating this library activity, she stated, “When I was a child, my mom encouraged us to celebrate the Day of the Dead in Bolivia.” 

As she grew up it became more difficult to maintain this tradition and keep up with the Dia De Los Muertos celebrations. “As years passed,” Sommer continues, “We forgot to do that (the traditions), but I always remembered all the things my mother taught me as a child.” 

Sommer also mentions the release of the Pixar film “Coco” inspired Sommer to renew forgotten traditions and share her heritage with others in Midvale. 

The Day of the Dead is celebrated all across Central and South America, and each country has unique and diverse means of celebration, and many of these were found at the Tyler Library during this event. Many ofrendas, or altar to honor lost loved ones, could be seen across the library honoring famed authors such as Mark Twain, Stephen Hawking, and Hans Christian Andersen, with offerings of fruit, candles, flowers, and sweet breads placed around a picture of them. With these altars one could also find kites that traditionally originated from Guatemala, showing the dedication to detail and diversity at the Tyler Library Day of the Dead celebration. λ