Monday, November 1, 2010

día de los muertos

The Day of the Dead has a big presence in the Bay Area due to our large Latino population.  Oakland has an annual street festival in the Fruitvale District and a special show at the Oakland Museum where local artists are invited to build altars.  Associated with All Saints and All Souls Days, the Day of the Dead has it's roots deep in Aztec culture.  They believed that at this time of year the veil between this world and the next lifts and the spirits of the departed can once again visit the corporal world.  In Mexico families use November 1st and 2nd to clean and decorate the graves of their loved ones and bring favorite food and drink as ofrendas to the spirits.  They also make temporary altars to pray, remember, and honor the dead using photos, flowers, candles, and personal artifacts.  Perhaps you have a similar tradition where you live?

A few years ago I decided to participate in the spirit of this tradition and create my own altar.  Every year since it has become a little more elaborate.  It's not at all traditional looking but it is filled with symbols that mean something to me.  It is a very emotional process for me that usually involves a fair amount of tears.  Every year I plant the flowers I use, and every year so far they bloom again at this time.  Having no pictures yet of the public events around this day, I thought I'd share a little of mine.  It's not a great photo, but you get the idea.


  1. What a lovely idea. Thank you for sharing this special altar with all of us.

  2. Beautiful composition and I agree with Virginia, this is a lovely idea.