El Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, is a bright and festive Mexican holiday celebrating the death and the life of loved ones. It is officially observed on November 1st and 2nd. This beautiful ritual happily and lovingly remembers friends and family members who have died. It is a day of celebration, not a day of mourning.
Traditions connected to the holiday include elaborate home altars, called ofrenda's, made of items that evoke memories of the departed, in the belief that their souls return to Earth for this one, special day. Also, traditionally left on the altar are sugar skulls, marigold flowers, candles, incense, and pan de muertos, a special bread baked for the holiday. In addition to building altars, many people visit cemeteries to decorate their loved ones' graves and to be together as a family.
Last year, Carlos and I took our boys to Old Town San Diego's Day of the Dead event. It was their second year holding this celebration and there were many altars and grave sites decorated at this historic state park. We wanted to introduce Paco and Tomás to this beautiful and very meaningful ritual. It treats death as something not to be feared but instead it shows how death is part of life and to remember those who have preceded us. To celebrate life is to celebrate death as well.
Below are some photos that I took last night at the third annual Old Town San Diego's Day of the Dead event. Enjoy!
A close-up of one of the many beautiful altars of the night.
An altar dedicated to the Whaley Family and located right next to the historic and "haunted" Whaley House.
This altar honoring lost local historic architecture was set up by the Save Our Heritage Organization of San Diego.
A grave site at the El Campo Santo cemetery in Old Town San Diego.
Public altar constructed in the El Campo Santo Cemetery. Visitors were given sticks to write their loved ones' names on them and placed in front of the altar.
Close-up of the many names of people's friends and family who have died. We were able to write a few names, as well, of some of our loved ones who have passed away.
Another view of more sticks honoring and remembering those who have died.