‘We want to keep our heritage alive’: 10th annual Day of the Dead celebration at La Hacienda

An altar with traditional Day of the Dead offerings, or ofrenda.
Part of La Hacienda's decorations at their 10th annual Day of the Dead Dinner Gala. Photo by Eddy Sweeney.
Edward Sweeney - CFFF - PeterboroughON | 10-11-2023
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Day of the Dead (a Mexican holiday which took place on Nov. 2) celebrations came to Peterborough last weekend for La Hacienda’s Day of the Dead dinner gala. This year’s gala celebrates La Hacienda’s 10th anniversary hosting the event.

La Hacienda owner Sandra Arciniega-Lennox has owned the restaurant for 21 years. She says that they have held festivities for Day of the Dead for about 15 years, but it started small and they took some years off because of COVID-19 related closures, making this the 10th annual dinner gala.

The dinner gala consisted of a special four-course meal, with wine pairings provided by Univins and Spirits. The meal was made up of traditional Mexican dishes, while including local ingredients, like the chosen dessert, pan de muerto (Day of the Dead bread), baked by a local bakery.

“It is a very simple bread, but it is only sold this time of the year,” says Arciniega-Lennox.

In addition to the food, they brought other traditional parts of Mexican celebration to the dinner gala, like the Mariachi-style duet from Mariachi Mexico Amigo, Jorge and Yuri.

The restaurant had traditional decorations, including the traditional Day of the Dead altar, with ofrenda. La Hacienda marketing and events coordinator, Anna Karina Corral, explains how the offerings are traditionally put together.

A well-known part of Day of the Dead celebrations is the costumes and face paint, which La Hacienda encouraged by providing a face paint artist.

“People, they like to dress up as the Catrina (Catrina is the elegant way to dress up like the dead),” says Corral, while explaining why they had a face paint artist at the gala before dinner doing traditional Day of the Dead designs.

Arciniega-Lennox says that it has not been “easy” to bring Mexican culture to Peterborough, but over their 21 years they have slowly introduced more Mexican celebrations and holidays, which is important for La Hacienda:

“For us, La Hacienda is a destination, we are more than a restaurant, so we have cultural events,” says Corral. “We want to keep our heritage alive.”

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