Celebrate the Day of the Dead online at the Latino Virtual Museum

You know the Day of the Dead has officially been adopted in the U.S. when it has been recognized by the Smithsonian, and when you can now celebrate it online! Today, the Smithsonian Latino Center launches its Dia de los Muertos 3D experience in the Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum. Customs and beliefs from ancient Mesoamerica, and those practiced in today’s Latino culture, will be showcased.

This fourth annual Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, celebration will take place in the Latino Virtual Museum in Second Life, October 31 to November 2. This three-day online event will feature activities that celebrate this popular Latin American holiday which honors deceased family and friends through the creation of altars, or ofrendas, which include traditional foods, sugar skulls, marigolds and material goods that the deceased enjoyed while alive.

“This year’s festival allows visitors to create a virtual presence with their avatars and to engage in the spirit of this culturally significant celebration by sharing their offerings with a global audience via Twitter,” said Melissa Carrillo, Latino Center director of New Media and Technology. “This celebration continues to grow in popularity, which is evidenced by more than 11,000 visits to our online festival last year.”

This year, ofrendas will be featured for late singer Chavela Vargas, actress Lupe Ontiveros and artist Carlos Alonzo. Visitors will have the opportunity to tweet messages and offerings during the ceremony, which will be delivered in the Nagual language.

“Many Mexicans and Mexican Americans, and others, do not live in communities where Dia de Muertos is celebrated in public ways, so our online, 3D, interactive program allows wide-ranging communities to do so virtually,” says Eduardo Diaz, executive director of the Smithsonian Latino Center. “The program is designed to present a variety of ways to celebrate–participate in an opening procession, participate in creating an ofrenda or altar, listen to a concert from Los Angeles, etc.”

Live art, music and cultural performances from artists and writers throughout the country will be featured, as well as an ancient Mesoamerican ballgame played between Smithsonian Latino Center staff and University of Texas El Paso alumni. Other activities include the building of a community altar, drumming workshops, a fiesta de las calaveras (skeletons), a costume contest, a literary series and a film festival.

In addition to the cultural activities, educators will have access to several online resources, including a Day of the Dead user’s guide and glossary, lesson plans, resource links and a Web site featuring an altar-building kit and video tutorials from last year’s festival.

Visit the Smithsonian Latino Center Latino Virtual Museum Day of the Dead site for more information on how to celebrate Dia de los Muertos virtually.

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