October 20, 2020

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Day of the Dead Celebrates Life at Edna White Community Garden

This post was contributed by a community member. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

The garden shed used to stage musical performances this summer will serve as an altar to display the photos of loved ones now deceased.
The garden shed used to stage musical performances this summer will serve as an altar to display the photos of loved ones now deceased. (Edna White Community Garden, 111th and Esmond in Morgan Park.)

The Edna White Community Garden has hosted everything from a peace rally to honey harvesting to winter bird feeding to holiday decorating, over the years.

Most recently, the Edna White Garden has presented a series of performances with local musical artists, whose have allowed residents an “escape” option from isolation while still providing needed safety and spacing during the pandemic

Morgan Park’s award-winning Edna White Garden announces a “Celebration of Life” for local residents through a “Day of the Dead” traditional three-day remembrance.

During “Day of the Dead” – Día de Muertos – from October 31st through November 2nd, families gather together to remember and honor their deceased loved ones.

A sacred, joyous time, a Day of the Dead tradition includes food and flowers, visits with family members, prayers, and stories about those who have died.

“Memories of our loved ones still guide us in our everyday lives,” said Kathy Figel Edna White Garden executive director. “The angels in our lives looking after us are those we’ve loved and lost. We need them now more than ever.”

According to Figel, the garden’s core volunteers will “convert the yellow shed at the garden into an altar” for residents to hang images of family members they want to honor.

The Latin American tradition, handed down through generations, is just beginning to take hold in the U.S. and break through the white noise of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“If ever there were a time to shun the commercialism of our own holidays and find solace in the strength of our ancestors, now is that time,” said Figel. “We can find inspiration to help us through this uncertain moment and get to the other side stronger.”

Regarded as a most sacred of days, family members welcome back the memory and the souls of those people who are still an important part of their family, even though they many not be physically present.

According to those who follow Mexican Art, Day of the Dead is “a sacred day in which a lot of people pray” and gather together to welcome back loved ones.

Depending on the weather, Sunday November 1st from noon until 2 p.m. is designated as a time at the garden for music, meditation and individual prayer. (Bears kick off at 3:25)

According to Figel, the transition into the winter season is a prefect time for reflection.

Participants are asked to forward a photograph of a deceased loved one. Garden volunteers will prepare the photo, laminate it and post it on the altar, which will remain in place through November. A $10 donation covers the cost of placement and goes toward upkeep of the garden. Send the photo to [email protected] Donations can be sent via Venmo or dropped at Figel’s home. Please watch for additional events during November through the Facebook page @EdnaWhiteGardens.

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