(All photos for this entry are posted here)
(The following is information I’ve picked up from various sources, so feel free to set me straight)
Dia de los Muertos is one of the more famous and widely practiced Mexican holidays. This ritual remembrance and celebration of the dead is said to be 3,000 years old, but was moved and mixed with All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day by the Spanish to give it a church link. As I understand it, November first is All Saints’ Day, which is to remember children that have died. The second is All Saints’ Day, and is for everyone else. The celebration of the holiday tends of be quite different depending on the region. In Northern Mexico and the US, it tends to be a more private, with altars of loved ones in your home.
Anna and I visited the Sherman Heights Community Center on the first of the month to check out some of the traditional altars that were on display to the public. It was my first time in the center (I have only ever seen it from the road) and I was quite impressed with the building. It seems like a really great resource for the neighborhood. The altars were quite varied. Some were intimate, others very orate. Most focused on family members (for four years after death). But a few focused on other issues like lead in children’s candy, or the murdered women and girls of Ciudad Juarez. All of the altars had ofrendas of some sort – favorite foods or drinks, flowers, sugar skulls, photos, etc. We talked to the people at the center and bought some pan de muerto. I wish we could have stayed a bit longer, they were going to have some traditional dancers bless the altars.
We also checked out Chicano Park, as I had heard they were going to have similar events. But the park was fairly empty. Too early, or too late?