Ask a child almost anywhere in the United States what holiday takes place this week, and he or she is almost certain to answer “Halloween.” But if you ask that question in Arlington, you might get a second answer. Thanks to the Capitol Square Business Association, the traditional Mexican Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, observance is becoming a yearly ritual in the East Arlington neighborhood.
“Last year was the first time we hosted a Day of the Dead celebration,” said Jan Whitted, owner of Artbeat and manager of Arlington’s Capitol Square Business Association. “It’s easy to find people of all ages in Southern California and the Southwest who know about Day of the Dead, but it’s not nearly so popular around here. Many people have heard of it, but they don’t necessarily know what it is.”
Even though Dia de los Muertos is officially observed on the day after Halloween, and is similar in its reference to death, its purpose is very different, Whitted explained.
“It’s not meant to be about spooky or scary things but rather a joyful occasion to remember the dead. Yes, the imagery of the holiday involves flowered skulls and dancing skeletons, but they are not meant to be frightening or creepy; instead, they are simply a symbol of how we can celebrate departed loved ones.”’
Capitol Square’s Day of the Dead Fiesta this year takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, with numerous galleries, shops, and restaurants along Massachusetts Avenue taking part.
13Forest Gallery is exhibiting slightly eerie works by artists Marc Cote, Vincent Frano, Joe Keinberger, and Steve Mardo on the Day of the Dead-inspired theme of “Collecting what is promised on the eve of the first frost,” and art center Kidcasso invites children to make pastel or oil paintings commemorating the day.
Restaurants, including Zocalo, Acitron, and La Posada, are offering samples of Mexican cuisine. Maxima Gifts is holding a tasting of Mexican chocolates. Artbeat will have crafts projects for kids to try out themes that typify Day of the Dead traditions.
“You can stop by Artbeat to make giant paper flowers or skull decorations,” Whitted said. “We’ll have a station where people can write messages to their friends or family members who have died. It’s an all-ages celebration, and it’s a time for all of us to think about and celebrate the lives of people who have passed on.”
For more information about the free festivities, go to www.capitolsq.com.
YOUNG ARTISTS: The works of teen artists from eight area high schools — including Arlington, Bedford, Concord-Carlisle, Lexington, Minuteman Regional, and Waltham — are on exhibit through Nov. 11 in a free show at the Lexington Arts and Crafts Society, 130 Waltham St.
For more information about the 17th annual display, including gallery hours and directions, call 781-862-9696 or go to www.lacsma.org.
DOUBLE THE MUSIC: The Circle of Friends Coffeehouse, 262 Chestnut St. in Franklin, welcomes two bands to the First Universalist Society meetinghouse stage Saturday: Pesky J Nixon, a four-piece Boston-area band, and Spuyten Duyvil, an eight-piece group from the New York area.
The concert begins at 8 p.m.; doors open at 7:30. Admission is $20. For tickets, call 508-528-2541 or go to www.circlefolk.org.
WALK-IN SPACES: As the holiday season approaches, many area artists — including painters, illustrators, weavers, potters, silversmiths, sculptors, and photographers — throw open their doors, allowing members of the public to see their studio spaces and discover their work.
Venues hosting open studios this weekend include Holliston Mill, at 24 Water St. in Holliston, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with a wine-tasting Sunday at 1 p.m. (for more information, go to www.hollistonmill.com), and the Waltham Mills Artists Association at 144 Moody St., Waltham, from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday (for more information, go to www.wmaastudios.org).
The Newton Cultural Center, at 225 Nevada St. in Newtonville, is offering a slight twist on the theme, using its facility to display the works of 77 local artists chosen for a juried show from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (for more information, go to www.newtonopenstudios.org).
SEASON’S OPENING: The Lexington-based Metropolitan Wind Symphony opens its 42d season on Sunday with a 2 p.m. concert at Cary Hall, 1605 Massachusetts Ave., Lexington.
The program will feature “A Jubilant Overture,” by Alfred Reed; “Rest,” by Frank Ticheli; “Equus,” by Eric Whitacre; “Southern Harmony,” by Donald Grantham; “Asphalt Cocktail,” by John Mackey; “Hands Across the Sea,” by John Philip Sousa; “O Cool Is the Valley,” by Vincent Persichetti; “Hymn to the Fallen,” by John Williams; “Armed Forces Medley,” arranged by Lewis J. Buckley, the orchestra’s musical director; and “Silverado,” by Bruce Broughton.
Tickets are $18 for adults, $14 for seniors and college students, $6 for ages 5 to 18, and free for children under 5; they will be available at the door or can be reserved at 617-983-1370. For more information, go to www.mws-boston.org.
WORLD VIEW: On Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Memorial Congregational Church, 26 Concord Road in Sudbury, launches its concert season with the recital “This is My Letter to the World,” a musical presentation of American and English poetry and ancient Chinese philosophy in English translation.
Admission is $15; $10 for students and seniors. A reception with the performers and composer David Leisner will take place after the concert. For more information, go to www.mccsudbury.org.
SCENES FROM INDIA: The Arsenal Center for the Arts, 123 Arsenal St. in Watertown, is presenting a multimedia exhibition created by Newton photographer Mimi Bernardin in collaboration with her son, Jesse Tripathi.
“Baba’s Village: Glimpses of an Ancestral Home” depicts a trip that Bernardin and Tripathi took in 2011 with Bernardin’s Indian-born father-in-law, Vinod Tripathi, to his native village, Jangoan, to document recent changes in that part of the world and see the girls’ school built by the senior Tripathi.
The display, which shows the school, interviews with villagers, and interactions between the photographer and residents of the rural community on the street outside the family home, is continuing through Nov. 10. Admission is free. For gallery hours or more information, call 617-923-8487 or go to www.arsenalarts.org.
TRIBUTES IN SONG: Singer Steven SanSoucie presents “If There Is Music There,” a program of hits that celebrates the lives of late musicians including Donna Summer, Janis Joplin, Freddie Mercury, Whitney Houston, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, John Denver, Michael Jackson, John Lennon, Andy Gibb, Luther Vandross, and Dan Fogelberg at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Amazing Things Art Center, 160 Hollis St., Framingham.
Tickets are $18, or $17 for seniors and students, and $15 for Amazing Things members. Call 508-405-2787 or go to www.amazingthings.org for tickets or more information.