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Davis Journal

Celebrating a culture surrounded in tradition and inclusion through Dia de los Muertos

Nov 14, 2022 11:43AM ● By Alisha Copfer

Decorating a local gravesite during a Day of the Dead celebration Photo courtesy of Norma Carver

KAYSVILLE—Although Dia de los Muertos was celebrated Nov. 1 and 2, Norma Carver wants to encourage everyone to understand the importance of this celebration. Her culture celebrates this holiday every year and decorates graves and sets up ofrendas (altars) to help the living celebrate the lives of those who have passed.

From the dances and fantastic clothing to the amazing food, Carver enjoys sharing everything she can about her culture. Carver, originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, loves to share her heritage with everyone in the community. “We have a lot of beautiful clothing, dialects and wonderful food that is worth sharing,” said Carver.

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a holiday traditionally celebrated the first two days of November. However, other days, such as Oct. 31 or Nov. 6, are also included in the celebration.

As part of this celebration this year, Carver joined with Kaysville City to set up an ofrenda at the Kaysville Administration Building. This display was available for visitors to see during the first week of November as part of the Arts and Culture Exhibit for 2022.

Carver explained that the altar was part of her non-profit organization Oaxaca en Utah. The purpose of the organization is to, “show our beautiful state of Oaxaca through the food, tradition, customs, education, dance and love of our Oaxacan people,” says Carver.

Many of the traditions and culture is explained at, “Oaxaca in Utah began more than 10 years ago, and during that time it was decided in 2020 to carry out the first Guelaguetza; we were seven families that came together and enjoyed our beautiful Oaxaca.”

Carver started Oaxaca in Utah in January 2022 with the idea of being able to continue celebrating and enjoying her culture with those around her. Carver has full support from her husband as she pursues this venture. Both of them want this experience to be bilingual so that everyone can understand the culture and celebrations.

While the Oaxaquenos have a large festival in July, they enjoy sharing their culture year-round. “We want to be a leader in our community and are helping those in Davis County,” explained Carver. The festival held in 2021 only had about 550 people in attendance, their 2022 celebration had over 10,000 people show to enjoy the cultural experience. Carver hopes this number will increase even more over time as people continue to learn about Oaxaca.

“We want the opportunity to present our culture to different communities, cities and counties in Utah,” stated Carver. Each time they hold a festival, they look for new sponsors. These festivals have crafts, dances, vendors who sell and show their wares and, of course, food.

As part of the recent Dia de los Muertos celebration, Oaxaca de Utah was able to decorate a local gravesite. “It’s special, not only for the one who has passed, but also as a celebration for those who attend,” said Carver. Each grave decorating includes food, music, candles and the sharing of stories about the person.

“It is very touching to everyone’s hearts in attendance,” explained Carver. “These celebrations help the person who has passed and those who have lost family and friends remember their importance.” Carver encourages everyone to come and know who these people are and what they accomplished.

In Oaxaca they always honor every person who has already departed from this life so that they will live on in their hearts forever. They are blessed to honor them and celebrate each person. λ