Join us for a prominent Mexican celebration — albeit with a decidedly secular touch — early next week.
The 2021 Secular Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos Secular celebration begins at 6:45 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, Nov. 2, via Zoom, and everyone is invited to participate.
Freedom From Religion Foundation Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor will join leading secular voices to welcome participants during this bilingual event. This will be followed by a Honoring Ceremony featuring dedications from distinguished guests and participants. Participants are encouraged to share a photograph or portraits of a deceased loved one during this portion of the event. Prizes will be awarded and mailed to participants whom the co-sponsors determine to have the best Secular Day of the Dead-themed clothing, Zoom setting, face painting, face mask and hair adornment.
Both an English and a Spanish speaker's Zoom breakout room will be available after the keynote speech by actor Jon Huertas (full details at ftsociety.org). “I’m looking forward to telling my journey story from heartsick and holy to happy heathen,” says Huertas. During the event, Huertas will be interviewed about his journey away from religion to freedom of thought by comedian, monologist, author and actor Julia Sweeney.
“More and more people are abandoning their religious upbringing but still want to celebrate the beauty of their Hispanic culture, and this is why the Secular Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos Secular was created,” says Margaret Downey, Secular Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos Secular co-founder and president of the Freethought Society. “Many nontheist Hispanics want to continue traditions and cultural rituals, but in a secular way.”
Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, honors all dead loved ones. Traditions connected with the holiday include creating private altars called ofrendas to honor the deceased using sugar skulls and marigolds, as well as displaying the favorite foods and beverages of the deceased. Some families and friends will make a point on this day to visit graves with these items as gifts, sometimes also carrying the possessions of the deceased.
Secularists, however, will be joining other like-minded individuals via Zoom this year to enjoy Hispanic food and beverages in the comfort of their own home for the 2021 Secular Day of the Dead celebration. The sharing of photos and life legacies of dead loved ones is encouraged. Secularists are not so different from the religious community when it comes to grief and the need to honor the life of someone who has died. The acknowledgment of a one and only life — without religious connections — is needed and appreciated for those who grieve. The online event will be religion-free and will feature music, presentations, an honoring ceremony, and socializing opportunities as well as the awarding of gifts.
“Many cultures have celebrated harvest times, the wistful change of seasons as leaves turn color and autumn segues into winter,” says Gaylor. “This is a natural time not only to feast, but to reflect on death and seasonal cycles. How fitting it is to reclaim the Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos for secular reflection. Secularists understand that the only afterlife that should concern any of us is leaving our descendants and planet a secure and pleasant future.”
Join us on Tuesday to celebrate life, legacies — and the joy of being human.