Day of The Dead: L.A. Style
As a kid, Halloween and Christmas were hard to beat. Candy and presents. That’s as good as life gets when you’re eight. As an adult, I still love sweets and, quite frankly, tearing open a wrapped package still puts a smile on my face. But when I think of Halloween, it’s not about free candy. It’s about celebrating Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.
That’s when I really come alive.
For the uninitiated (or pure candy-lovers), Dia de Los Muertos is where the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. Cheery good fun, right.
Then on November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them, which are all taken to the cemetery. People clean tombs, play cards, listen to the village bands and reminisce about their loved ones.
I mean, what could be better than that? It's festive. It's colorful. And there is drinking, eating, and loved ones (both dead and alive), all hanging out in cemeteries, eating sugar. And make no mistake about it, sugar art is one of the key ingredients to Dia de los Muertos, starting with deliciously decorated cookies.
But, the challenge is never why to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. The real question is where? Well, my Angeleno friends, I’m going to give you two places where you can go and celebrate Dia de Los Muertos. You can thank me in the afterlife.
#2 Olvera Street, Oct 25th—Nov. 2nd
Olvera Street, known as “the birthplace of Los Angeles,” is a Mexican Marketplace that recreates a romantic “Old Los Angeles” with a block-long narrow, tree-shaded, brick-lined market with old structures, painted stalls, street vendors, cafes, restaurants and gift shops.
Nobody does the Day of the Dead like our good friends down at Olvera Street. There are beautifully decorated altars, exhibits and lots of entertainment. Best part is: it’s free.
#1 The Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Oct. 29th
Of course, to be really honest, there’s really no better place to celebrate the Day of the Dead than in a cemetery. It’s where Dia de los Muertos is meant to be celebrated.
The cemetery grounds are covered with a wide assortment of art exhibitions, dance rituals, musical performances, children's arts and crafts projects, and enough food for eternity.
You'll also see altars to the dead created by community artists, and can either watch or participate in the calaca (skeleton) costume contest.
In honor of the fest's 16th anniversary, this year's theme is "the Tree of Life." It's going to be a spectacular display.
This classic Halloween-time event truly respects and celebrates the very (and often forgotten) roots of the holiday.
This is a ticketed event and costs $20.00. But, it’s worth every cent. To purchase, go to http://www.ladayofthedead.com/
So, what do you say? Are you ready to celebrate Dia de los Muertos the way it’s meant to be celebrated?
Of course, you could always wait until you’re dead…but that wouldn’t be as much fun.