It is the time of the year to call on the spirits of those who have passed. This isn’t a time to be afraid of the dead or death, it is a time to honor those who have left the earth. It’s not Halloween, it’s time for Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead! Preparations are made the entire year. It is a very spiritual time celebrated in regions of Mexico and throughout the world. Death is not to be feared! On October 31, All Hallows Eve, altars of all types are made ready for the ceremonies. It’s time to honor children and infants or Dia de los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents), also called Dia de los Angelinos (Day of the Little Angels). Children decorate their altars with toys, sugar skulls, cardboard skeletons, tissue paper decorations, the deceased favorite candy, dress in costumes, and call on other children who have passed to come to them.
November 1 is All Saints Day. Adults lay out their altars to welcome the spirits of lost loved ones for a short visit. Everyday items such as books or tools are placed on the altars in honor of the dead. Elaborately decorated sugar skulls (Calaca) are placed on the altars. Their beautiful colors and hand-made intricacies make them the public face of this Mexican holiday. Faces are painted; bands and dancers perform. Celebration foods such as candied pumpkin and Pan de Muerto (bread of dead) are set out for the deceased. Beverages such as atole, bottles of tequila, mezcal or pulque are set out for the adults. Pillows and blankets are left out so the deceased can rest after their long journey.
November 2 is known as All Souls Day, Dia de los Muertos or Dia de los Difuntos (Day of the Dead). Families go to cemeteries where their loved ones are buried to clean and decorate their graves and tombs. The colorful altars (ofrendas) adorn the graves. Orange Mexican marigolds are the traditional flower used everywhere. The three day festival is filled with favorite foods, incense, drinks and flowers. These items beckon the spirits to come back to celebrate.
Some Ofrendas are also put in homes, a welcoming gesture for the deceased. Christian crosses, statues or pictures of the Virgin Mary and pictures of the deceased are surrounded by scores of candles. Relatives spend time around the altar praying and telling anecdotes about the deceased. In some locations, celebrants wear shells on their clothing as they dance, hoping to wake up the dead. Look for these celebrations throughout Orange County:
California State University Fullerton 10th Annual Noche de Altares
800 N. State College Blvd. Fullerton, CA 92831 4th and Birch Streets Santa Ana,
(657) 278-4815 (714) 662-2002
Price: Free/$8 university parking Price: Free
When: Wednesday, Nov. 7 When: Saturday, Nov. 3