Dia de los Muertos festival commemorates deceased
by KAREN LA
Embracing the cycle of life and death, Latin American families remember the deceased with events such as the L.A. County’s annual Dia de los Muertos celebration on Olvera Street.
Dia de los Muertos is a Latin American holiday, known as the “Day of the Dead.” It is celebrated Nov. 1 and 2, when many believe that the heaven gates will open so that the deceased spirits can visit earth and celebrate with their families.
Celebrants see death as a part of life, and they embrace it with open minds instead of fearing it. Rather than mourning, families visit the graves of the deceased, decorating them with marigolds, candles and photos.
“For me, to celebrate Dia de los Muertos means to remember all the family members who have passed away. To throw them a party shows that we still love them,” said Emily Vazquez, freshman.
Families celebrate by eating favorite foods that the loved ones enjoyed during their lifetime and pouring drinks on the grass near the graves. Foods that are typically eaten are pan de muertos, sweet egg bread decorated to look like twisted bones and candied sugar skulls with the name of the dead person written on the forehead.
“My family and I usually make a meal for our relative, which involves bread, hot chocolate, candy, water and candles. We leave it out until November and no one is allowed to touch any of that,” said Jessica Perez, junior.
Workshops that are suitable for both adults and children will be available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 23 through Nov. 1. Families will be able to enjoy face painting, mask coloring, necklace making and flower painting. Families can also participate in the candlelight Novenario procession, a ceremony in which deceased family members receive a combination of Catholic and an indigenous blessing as Dia de los Muertos is created from a blend of Aztec cultures and Catholicism. Street theater performances, mariachi bands, Aztec dancers, puppets and other family activities will be featured.