Tag Archives: special events

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Celebration

November 2 is celebrated as Día de los Muertos in Mexico. The day is an opportunity to remember loved ones who have died and to honor the dead. Its origins predate Spanish colonization of Mexico, and like so many things colonized and appropriated by colonial powers in the Americas, Day of the Dead was merged with Spanish Catholic traditions to create the holiday as it known today. At The Pub, we celebrate today from open to close, as an opportunity for patrons to come together and remember their lost loved ones and to reflect on Mexican culture in an American context and what this represents about the American experiment of diversity and liberal democracy.

Originally celebrated during summer, the holiday originates among the Aztecs. With the arrival of the conquistadores in the Americas and the subsequent Catholicization of the indigenous peoples, and with attempts at eradication of the holiday failing, the Day of the Dead was moved to coincide with the Catholic holiday of All Hallows Eve, opening the door for the syncretistic celebration of traditional values and Catholic theology. At its core, which dates back some 2500-3000 years, the day is about celebrating life by acknowledging death. By remembering and honoring the dead, even young children learn not to fear death, but rather to accept it as part of the cycle of life and thereby empowering them to appreciate each moment of life. The day serves as a reminder that life is brief and death is natural.

With that preface, I’d like to make four points about The Day of the Dead, the Commercial application of holidays, and The Pub’s place on campus.

The Day of the Dead is not Halloween. This is an important point, particularly for non-Mexicans being introduced to the holiday for the first time. It’s easy for confusion to arise because of the presence of costumed individuals (dressing in bright colors and painting faces like skulls are both traditions) and the presence of sweets such as sugar skulls as well as the centuries old association of the Day of the Dead with Halloween in the Catholic Liturgical Calendar.

HIDALGO, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 02:  A girl in costume in Real del Monte on the 'Day of the Dead' on November 2, 2014 in Hidalgo,Mexico. The Royal Couple are on the first day of a four day visit to Mexico as part of a Royal tour to Colombia and Mexico.  (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
HIDALGO, MEXICO – NOVEMBER 02: A girl in costume in Real del Monte on the ‘Day of the Dead’ on November 2, 2014 in Hidalgo,Mexico. The Royal Couple are on the first day of a four day visit to Mexico as part of a Royal tour to Colombia and Mexico. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

However, unlike the highly commercialized and thoroughly secularized American Halloween, Day of the Dead is highly symbolic and for many spiritually and religiously significant. It is not a day for debaucherous celebration of grotesque imagery, but rather a celebration of life and death. It is a day to honor the dead by remembering them.

Here are some good opinion pieces on this idea here and here.

Second, we support celebrating non-western or non-white holidays within a commercial setting and in the public domain. Why? Isn’t this simply crass commercialization and cultural appropriation? We would respectfully say no to both of these. When the only voices that are allowed to surface within an American capitalist structure are those that have belonged to power brokers (namely white European), we deny critical aspects of our pluralistic democratic Republic. At this particular moment in American public discourse, Mexicans, immigrants, and the Other have been disparaged and marginalized through policy and rhetoric by those who espouse authority as the political and economic leaders of this country. Along with other businesses (such as 5 Rabbit Cerveceria), we want to acknowledge the beauty of this subset of our populace.

As a business, we obviously want to make money. But we hope that anyone who has ever been into The Pub realizes that we are not trying to squeeze every cent possible from our patrons. We have a mission that accompanies the profit motive, and that centers on being a place for community and conversation. As such, we are trying to be true to the community we serve and the staff who makes The Pub what it is. Which brings us to point #3.

This day is particularly meaningful to our staff. Our staff’s connection to this day explains why we choose to celebrate this day at this time. Our staff is almost exclusively Mexican. Victor, the bar manager, has been with the company for 21 years. He was born in Chicago but grew up in Mexico in his traditional hometown of his family. The Pub (and The Medici) has been filled with Victor and his relatives for the last two decades, with as many as 21 staffers at Medici being part of his family at one time. Currently, six members of Victors family put in time at The Pub. If you come into The Pub with regularity, then you have definitely seen Victor and his cousin Hector giving each other grief and making The Pub what it is. As Mexicans, Victor and Hector were excited about the opportunity to share this part of their culture with pub patrons and to bring visibility to Mexican culture and heritage. By celebrating, we acknowledge that more than just one set of traditions matter.

The day is consonant with the mission of The Pub as a place for community. The Pub wants to be the place where classroom discussions continue; the place where friends gather to enjoy each other; the place where relationships deepen; the place where lifetime bonds are forged. We want to help people make new friends and celebrate with old friends. We want people to comfort each other in the bad times and celebrate with each other in the good times. With all of these expositions of the notion of community in mind, we felt that this holiday, with its deep connections to our staff, the resonance with our campus community, was a great expression of our mission of being a community space

We hope that you will enjoy Dia de los Muertos with us at The Pub. We have some great beers to celebrate tonight (including 3Floyds Zombie Dust and 5 Rabbit Vida y Muerte). You can find more about what we will be doing at The Pub tonight by checking out our Facebook event.

Surly Brewing Co., Minneapolis, Minnesota

Not everything survives Chicago. It’s a big place, with lots of competition, and Chicagoans can be particular about what we want. Starbucks even failed the first time it tried to move into Chicago. So if you’ve been around the beer scene for a while, you may have noticed that Surly was here for a while, then disappeared, and now is back. Maybe you think, wow, they must have not done so well. Au contraire mon frère! Surly was doing so well back in Minnesota, that people almost rioted because the beer was getting hard to find and Surly was shipping some off to Chicago. So they dialed it back until they had a greater production capacity. Now Surly is back in Chicago (and they just moved into Iowa and Wisconsin).

logoSo why am I starting a blog entry about Surly with this little anecdote? Because I think it’s hard to understand how good Surly is without understanding how fanatical people (here’s looking at you Minnesotans!) can be about it. And I want it to be clear that these beers are dynamite.

So what do you need to know about Surly?

First, they are metal. I don’t mean they like heavy metal, or that they have a lot of synergy (the least metal word I know) with the metal scene. I mean, they are heavy metal – Todd Haug, the head brewer at Surly, not only listens to Heavy Metal when he brews beer, but was/is the guitarist for speed metal band Powermad.Todd Haug -- Surly

Second, they started selling their first beer, Furious IPA, in February of 2006. It’s a great IPA with influence from the British Extra Special Bitter (ESB) style. In this beer, you’ll find something that runs through a lot of Surly’s beers, giving them a unified character: Golden Promise malt. If you tried Todd the Axe Man at last year’s Docfilms The Shining event at The Pub, then you tasted the Golden Promise in full effect.

Third, their Russian Imperial Stout, Darkness, is a whale. If you can get it, ever, you must.

Fourth, they just opened a “destination brewery” (meaning you can come to the Brewery and also drink a pint) back in December. Their new brewery gives them the capacity to brew 100,000 barrels per year (for those not in the know, a Barrel = 2 Kegs). To get there though, they had to get a prohibition-era law changed. Seriously! Surly gets stuff done and they aren’t afraid to challenge the system!

Fifth, they kick major tail in Ultimate Frisbee. Seriously (Or surliously?). Five championships in two divisions.

SARASOTA, FL: Ben Cohen (Surly #67) makes a catch, ruled out of bounds, against Boneyard (Cary, NC) in the finals of the masters division at the 2012 USA Ultimate Club Championships. Saturday, October 27, 2012. © Brandon Wu / for UltiPhotos.com.
SARASOTA, FL: Ben Cohen (Surly #67) makes a catch, ruled out of bounds, against Boneyard (Cary, NC) in the finals of the masters division at the 2012 USA Ultimate Club Championships. Saturday, October 27, 2012. © Brandon Wu / for UltiPhotos.com.

We could go on about the brewery, but we won’t. Bottom line? This is a brewery that you have to know if you want to know craft beer in the Midwest specifically and in the U.S. generally. Believe me, once you drink some of their beers, you’ll be glad we introduced  you.

Chris from Surly will be at The Pub on Thursday, October 8, from 5pm-7pm pouring samples of Furious IPA, Hell Lager, and Cacao Bender.


Join us to celebrate Oktoberfest at The Pub today from 4pm until we close at 1am. Why are we celebrating Oktoberfest? Let me count the ways!

First, it’s Oktoberfest.

Second, there are some amazing Oktoberfest beers. We have this, this, and this on tap right now.

Third, Oktoberfest is a celebration of fall and a chance to come together and socialize. (The first one was a wedding celebration!) Fall at the University of Chicago is an exciting time as new students arrive on campus, returning students return from summers of awesomeness, and an authentic spirit of newness permeates the air. So Oktoberfest is the perfect festival for back to school and giving upperclassmen, new graduate students, and returning graduate students the chance to mingle and meet each other.

Fourth, you may not know it, but the Morsbachs, the family that brought you the Medici on 57th and who has run The Pub for 30+ years is a Bavarian family who immigrated to Hyde Park. We take pride in being a small, family run business, and this is a way of inviting you to join a family celebration!

Fifth, it’s Oktoberfest.

So what can you expect at our Oktoberfest party?

A little of this:


And this:IMG_0280

Some of this.

A lot of this. And this. And this. And this is how Mexicans do German beer. (Lots of Mexican beer is in a German style, in case you didn’t know!)

Oh, and we are giving away stuff all night long. Every hour, on the hour (or close enough for a bar without a working clock) We’ll start around 5:00 (and if a lot of people are here, we’ll do some giveaways before that!) or whenever else we feel like throwing some swag your way. Here’s some of the stuff we’ll be giving away:


If you want to know more about the History of Oktoberfest, check this out.

What else is there to say? Oh yeah. Prost!