Day of the Dead Traditions Inspires New Followers


The Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is growing in popularity all across the United States, and not only among Latinos.

Artists from all over the world have been inspired to create their own interpretations of the rich cultural tradition. Even 20th Century Fox has a new animated film rich with Día de Los Muertos themes: “The Book of Life,” is now in theaters and getting great reviews.

“The Word, The Flesh Y La Santa Muerte” by George Yepes.

“The Word, The Flesh Y La Santa Muerte” by George Yepes.

This weekend, a slew of Dia de los Muertos themed events – from art gallery exhibits to parades and festivals — will draw thousands of enthusiastic participants of all ages and backgrounds, including many who will dress up and paint their faces, and indulge in eating some special sweets, such as pan de muerto.

While some may be confused by the popular imagery — which often includes people painting their faces to look like skulls and artist interpretations filled with what appears to be skeleton figures engaging in earthly activities — Día de los Muertos is not morbid or scary, but a festive celebration of the memories of loved ones now gone from this world.

Rooted in Aztec traditions dating back at least 3,000 years, and the blending in of the Catholic observances of All Saints and All Souls days, in the U.S., Día de los Muertos is today more a cultural than religious observance.

Alter at Olvera Street (EGP photo archive 2012)

Alter at Olvera Street (EGP photo archive 2012)

Officially observed on Nov. 1 and 2, local Día de Los Muertos festivities will continue through mid-November (See Community Calendar on page 3).

Tonight, at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument in downtown Los Angeles, there will be three special Día de los Muertos events all on the same night.

The Olvera Street Merchants Association Foundation will continue its annual Día de los Muertos Novenario Procession (7p.m.), where merchants and others paint their faces, don typical attire, and lead all who wish to take part through traditional Aztec rituals and blessings, incorporating music and dance. Merchants have also created special altars that are on display in the main Plaza. The procession continues nightly through Nov. 2.

“Noche Azul Como el Mar” by Daniel Alanzo

“Noche Azul Como el Mar” by Daniel Alanzo

Corazon de los Angeles, a gallery and cultural gift store on Olvera Street, is inviting the public to attend the opening reception (6-9p.m.) for its new Día de los Muertos exhibit, featuring paintings, photography, hand-made folk art, ceramics and more from nearly two dozen artists with ties to Los Angeles.

As a special highlight, attendees can be the first to see “The Word, The Flesh, Y La Santa Muerte,” the newest piece from world-renown artist George Yepes. The exhibit will run through Nov. 22, and can be viewed during regular hours of operation.

Also opening Thursday (6-9p.m.), is “Sacred Memories: Cross-Cultural Celebrations of Day of the Dead,” featuring over 100 pieces of vibrant and diverse artwork from 80 artists who explore the world’s rituals that venerate the departed. The exhibit is being hosted by El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument & El Pueblo Park Association

Admission to all three events is free, as are all the Día de los Muertos activities taking place o Nov. 1 and Nov. 2, from 10a.m. to 8p.m.

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