Day of the Dead is a traditional holiday celebrated in central and southern Mexico on November 1 and 2. This holiday is a unique mix of Spanish Catholic, and native Aztec traditions and beliefs. When Spanish Conquistadors invaded Mexico they blended the Aztec celebration with the Catholic All Saints Day ad All Souls Day.
The indigenous people of Mexico believed that the gates of heaven open at midnight on October 31 and the spirits of the deceased children reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2 the spirits of adults come down to enjoy the festivities. Dating back thousands of years, the tradition of honoring their deceased loved ones is a colorful and unique holiday, with music, dancing, and folk art. In Mexico Day of the Dead is a national holiday, where family and friends get together to remember and celebrate departed loved ones. Family members create elaborate ofrendas or alters decorated with paper cut skeletons, food, incense, candles, marigolds, a cup of water, and sugar skulls. These decorative skulls have the name of the deceased on the forehead and are whimsical and fun rather than morbid or scary. Celebrants paint their faces to make “calacas”, the faces of grinning skeletons.
These festivities are colorful and joyous and offer wonderful opportunity to learn something of the Mexican culture and experience one of our border neighbors most important holidays.
Thursday November 1,
- Sixth Street in downtown San Pedro will come alive with art, culture, Mexican cuisine and live entertainment celebrating Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Sample delicious Latin American food from local restaurants; visit the altar exhibition featuring the work of artists and community members, and stroll through the Artists Village where one-of-a-kind items will be on sale. Children will have fun at the LaMuerte Vive! Art Area where they can create their own masterpiece to take home. November 1, 3:30 until 10:00 PM. www.sanpedrodayofthedead.com/index/php
- Day of the Dead Autumn Feast hosted by Pop tART Gallery, Castle Gourmet and Mooi Foods. This pop-up dinner will feature an organic and vegan four-course Mexican meal cooked by chefs Anne Lee and Stephen Hauptfuhr. For information and reservations go to www.lapoptart.com
- Plaza de la Raza Cultural Center for the Arts and Education will hold a traditional ceremonial blessing and art workshop with face painting, Mexican cut flowers, masks, and skeleton puppets. Plaza de la Raza 3540 N. Mission Road, Los Angeles 90031 5-9PM. www.plazadelaraza.org.
Friday November 2
- The Getdown Collective will present El Velorio a Day of the Dead, a cultural event, art exhibit and party at KGB Studios in Downtown L.A. This event will benefit the local nonprofit Las Fotos Project dedicated to empowering at-risk Latina young people through photography. The gallery will feature work by 100 local artists, including Eriberto Oriol, Oscar Magallanes, Melissa Forman, Tom Bagshaw, Antonio Pelayo and famed street artists, Shepard Fairey and RETNA. Wilmer Valderrama, (Fez from That ‘70s Show) will host, with sound provided by KCRW’s Jeremy Sole, La Misa Negra, Oro22, ALTER, Toks, Mess, and THE GETDOWN COLLECTIVE. This promises to be a terrific evening benefiting a great cause. KGB Studios, 1640 North Spring Street, Los Angeles. Presale tickets $15.00, $20.00 at the door. www.elvelorio.com
- Self Help Graphics & Art will hold its 39th annual Dia de los Muertos festival. This Self Help Graphics & Art event was the first public Day of the Dead celebration in the country. The event will feature live music, food and craft vendors, a traditional ceremony, face painting and children’s events. This year’s theme, Recuerdos Que Nunca Mueren (Memories That Never Die) will be a mix of spirituality, and celebratory ritual. The street procession with participants wearing extraordinary costumes will start at 5PM from Variachi Plaza at First Street and Boyle ending with a fabulous display or memorial alters and a group art show. 1300 E. First St, Boyle Heights 5-11PM www.selfhelpgraphic.com
- Grand Park will team with the popular downtown bar, La Cita for an outdoor holiday celebration with live mariachi music, vendor booths and food trucks. The event will run from 5PM until midnight.
- Olvera Street merchants will hold their Dia de los Muertos Saturday November 3 &4 with Children’s workshops featuring mask and necklace making, strolling mariachi bands, Aztec dancers, ballet folklorico, food, and fun. 125 Paseo de la Plaza, in downtown LA across from Union Station. www.lacity.org/elp
Sunday November 4
- Main Street Canoga Park will host their 12th Annual Dia de los Muertos Festival. Sherman Way between Canoga Avenue and Vassar Ave., 10AM to 5PM