Dia de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead, for us gringos) is the best holiday of the year. It has all the food and presents and dressing up that make big American corporate holidays fun– or awful, depending on your point of view– but it’s also the day where the dead are invited to come back and visit the living.
El Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), a Mexican celebration, is a day to celebrate, remember and prepare special foods in honor of those who have departed. On this day in Mexico, the streets near the cemeteries are filled with decorations of papel picado, flowers, candy calaveras (skeletons and skulls), and parades.
In order to celebrate, the families make altars and place ofrendas (offerings) of food such as pan de muertos baked in shapes of skulls and figures, candles, incense, yellow marigolds known as cempazuchitl (also spelled zempasuchil) and most importantly a photo of the departed soul is placed on the altar.
Living alongside death means that Mexicans have to learned to accept it within their lives. Death is apparent in everyday life. It is in art and even in children’s toys. It is not respected as it is in other cultures. Children play “funeral” with toys that are made to represent coffins and undertakers.
Fortunately for those of us who live in Los Angeles, Hollywood Forever Cemetery holds a massive event every year for Dia de Los Muertos. I went for three years in a row, but unfortunately had to miss it this year for a book research trip in San Francisco. DESPAIR! Here are the pictures taken of us last year by Order member Mara.