How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

American snapshot: Día de Los Muertos, the slip-ons

Photo by facio/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A post this morning about el Día de Los Muertos got into the holiday's bittersweet true meaning, away from the art, the revelry and the commerce. But it's impossible to ignore the latter as the Mexico's celebration of deceased loved ones grows increasingly mainstream in the U.S.

Mountains of Día de Los Muertos-themed merchandise are found at large commercial festivals like, for example, the one held late last month at the Hollywood Forever cemetery in Los Angeles.

But the owner of these slip-on beauties didn't have to brave the crowds. Writes N. Facio on his Flickr page, "Son mis zapatos favoritos. (They're my favorite shoes). And I got them at a Shoe City outlet store. They were made by Skechers."

Well okay, then. What Day of the Dead merchandise have you seen around this year, and what do you think of it? Feel free to share tales or photos below.


Feliz (yes, feliz) Día de Los Muertos

Photo by Omar Torres/AFP Getty Images

Ofrendas of food and beverages on an altar in Mexico City in preparation for Day of the Dead, October 31, 2008

The sight of altars and sugar skulls has become a common one in Los Angeles and in other parts of the United States, anywhere that Mexican immigrants have influenced the culture. El Día de Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, is now as much a part of this season as Halloween.

But much of what has come across, as might be expected with a holiday that is so visually rich, is the art and the revelry. Not to say that revelry isn't a part of it, but this is not, as some may see it, a Mexican version of Halloween. One of the central themes of el Día de Los Muertos that often gets lost in translation is that even in death, our loved ones remain a part of our lives. It can be a bittersweet celebration, but sweet all the same.

There's a nice essay today on the News Taco website from Sara Inés Calderón, who writes about how she grasped the meaning of the Day of the Dead when she began losing loved ones:


American snapshot: Downtown L.A.

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

A giant Catrina stares out from a gallery storefront on Fourth Street. The female skeletal figure, made popular nearly a century ago by Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada, is synonymous with Mexico's Día de los Muertos holiday. Which is, of course, also a holiday in L.A.

I stopped by the gallery this weekend to check out the set pieces for a theater production, "La Muerte Vive," which are being housed there before the event Nov. 2. (And for the sake of full disclosure, I know the producer.)


On the Day of the Dead, remembering the art of José Guadalupe Posada

Photo by TK/Flickr (Creative Commons)

"La Catrina" as part of a monument to Posada in Aguascalientes, Mexico, May 2007

This Election Day happens to fall on el Día de Los Muertos, the day of the dead. Think Mexican has posted an homage to the late Mexican illustrator José Guadalupe Posada, whose skeletal "La Catrina" is synonymous with Mexico's annual celebration of the dead as a part, always, of our lives.

According to tradition, the dead make their annual journey back to the land of the living at this time of year, and are welcomed home with altars laden with food, drink and tokens of what they loved in life.

The observance ends tonight.


Celebrating Día de los Muertos

Photo by Jim Benning

Just as Halloween is almost here, so, too, is Día de los Muertos, the day of the dead.

It amazes me how mainstream the ancient Mexican celebration has become in Los Angeles in recent years. But then, that's the beauty of an immigrant town. The sight of sugar skulls is becoming nearly as commonplace as that of jack-o-lanterns at this time of year, and there is a degree of cultural respect that comes with that. And if one of the central themes of Día de Los Muertos comes across in the translation - that even in death, our loved ones remain a part of our lives - even better.

How to celebrate the holiday (which officially takes place Nov. 1 and 2)?

- LA Eastside has a long list of just about every public event between now and then, including the longstanding Noche de Ofrenda tradition at East L.A.'s Self Help Graphics tonight and the ever-more-enormous annual festival at the Hollywood Forever cemetery, also tonight, about which blogger El Random Hero had this to say: