Saturday, November 1, 2008


Today I went to my first Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead Celebration. I had read about it, seen info on TV about it and even purchased a few decorative pieces when I went to Mexico, but I had never seen the celebration first hand before. So today was a real treat.

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a celebration, which traditionally lasts two nights and three days, is a time when people remember family and friends who have died by building an altar in their memory.

The altar, built in the home or on the grave site, is decorated with flowers, candles and sugar skulls. The family then proceeds to make the favorite foods of the deceased and sing the songs they so dearly loved. Also, items that the deceased loved will also be placed on the alter.

This is one of the alters at this celebration I went to. While it was not one built at home or on the graveside it was still beautiful and very touching to see.

Each alter tells the story of the person who had died.
This young man who passed away loved In and Out Burgers, Halloween, his daughter, apple juice, Mexican food, and M&M's.

Some families made lovely pictures out of beans and rice.

As we walked through the area and looked at each alter we came across all these crosses with notes on them.

I started to read them and quickly realized these were put up in memory of men and women who had died durning the Iraq war.

It was a tribute to not only our men and women in the military but also the Iraqi Civilians that were killed.
You can click on the photo to enlarge it and read what this alter is all about.

Photos of many of the families and friends who died in the war were up with notes of love next to them.

This part of the alter really touched me. It reminded me that in death it doesn't matter where we are from. There will be family and friends that miss and mourn the person. In death we are all brought together.

The other part of the alter that tugged at my heart strings were the crosses with the deceased military boots next to them.

The community event is a 2 day celebration. Throughout the days there were arts and crafts workshops, face painting, local artists selling their wares and delicious food from the local restaurants and vendors. As well as live music and entertainment all day.

I enjoyed looking at all the vendors items for sale. This skull head just makes me smile.

These figures represent all areas of life that the deceased person enjoyed. Some were sports, some were sun bathing, some were drinking/parting and shopping.

There were bibs for sale for the little ones.

Bags for the adults.

Rings for everyone.

You could buy molds to make sugar skulls of your own.

Tiles to display or use as hot pads.

Children coloring images of Dia de los Muertos.

Children as well as adults got their faces painted.

There were a lot of people today.

The music was playing loudly.

The children in brightly color costumes danced to entertain everyone.

It was a good day had by all.

Dia de los Muertos is not a sad time. It is a time to remember and celebrate your loved ones who have passed on.

They do believe that by making the alters with all the bright colors, good foods and items the person the loved that maybe, just maybe, their loved ones will once again find their way back home. Even if it is just for a short time to say "I love you" once again.

I really enjoyed today and learned a lot. I think next year I am going to build my own alters to my family members who have died and celebrate having them with me.




Catherine said...

Excellent post. Day Of The Dead is widely celebrated here in Arizona. You explained it all so well and the beautiful pictures were icing on the cake! Good job!

Renee said...

You did explain it very well. I went to a few celebrations when I was younger but I don't know if I could go now because after having kids I cry over EVERYTHING!!! You took really great pictures!!! I changed my blog again and added some new posts. Talk to you later.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

This was very interesting Joanne! I saw Dia de los Muertos celebrated in San Antonio, Texas one year and it was very similar. I, too, was touched by how much thought and planning went into the displays.
It is also celebrated in Italy, but more with a religious theme of going to Mass and praying to the saint the deceased person was named after, plus some traditional foods are eaten.

Thanks for sharing so many wonderful photos -- I felt like I was with you!

Hugs, Pat

Indigo Robe said...

Loved the photos... I live in Az and have never been to one. Where do you live? Thanks for this post!