'A little piece of Mexico in NY.' La Sirena is NYC's go-to for Day of the Dead goods
In a nondescript building in the East Village, a carefully curated collection of Mexican folk art is crammed into a 325-square-foot storefront. Dina Leor is the owner of La Sirena – she's been traveling back and forth to Mexico to add to the collection for 24 years.
“I brought a piece of it here ... a little piece of Mexico in New York,” Leor told News 12.
La Sirena is open all year round but is the go-to for Day of the Dead gear in the city. Leor says the holiday starts on Oct. 28, but the dates that individuals choose to celebrate it differs. Day of the Dead originated in Mexico as a celebration where people pay homage to their ancestors. It usually involves building an altar in your home to honor those who have passed – Leor’s store sells all of the goods needed for the altar and more. Leor – who is not Mexican – noticed an uptick in New Yorkers from all cultures celebrating Day of the Dead after the release of Disney's "Coco" in 2017.
“In New York over the years, it’s just gotten bigger and bigger ... I don’t really have that cultural appropriation thing,” she said. “If we share our traditions, that’s beautiful, as long as you share them and honor them in a respectful way.”
But despite Day of the Dead being celebrated universally, one of Leor’s biggest joys is serving Mexican customers.
“There’s a lot of people here who can’t go home ... if they leave they can’t come back ... I’ve had people break down and cry in my store because it’s a piece of life that they don’t always necessarily see here,” Leor said.
Day of the Dead traditionally ends on Nov. 2, but some people celebrate all month long.