Birmingham’s Day of the Dead finds new life during pandemic

Birmingham’s Day of the Dead finds new life during pandemic
Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival continues at Birmingham's Pepper Place through Nov. 7. (Ike Pigott / Alabama NewsCenter)

In a year when we have lost so many, COVID-19 nearly took away an opportunity to honor them.

Since 2003, Bare Hands Gallery has sponsored Birmingham’s Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) remembrance. It is ordinarily a large event with music, dance and food, but the need for social distancing made changes necessary in 2020. Spreading out the memorials in both space and time allows more people to participate safely.

This year’s Dia de los Muertos at Pepper Place is a weeklong affair, every evening through Saturday, Nov. 7. Attendance this year is open and free. Friday and Saturday nights will coincide with Eat in the Streets, sponsored by Pepper Place and the city of Birmingham, which means music and more food options.

Some things will be the same this year, such as the opportunity for personal remembrance altars (ofrendas) and the memorial roll call. However, organizers are not encouraging large gatherings at the site. Instead, you’re asked to wander through and respect the departed while also respecting social distance.

Birmingham’s tradition was inspired in 2003 by Bare Hands, after an installation by artist Tracy Martin. The event has grown as community members have embraced the meanings behind the event. Attendees are invited to bring their personal remembrances of loved ones to display on the public altar.

Related Stories