Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

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:

... it’s meant to introduce the DOD tradition to people who are not familiar with it, that’s what I love about the event. However, they lose me on a few other things that not only don’t go along with the tradition, but kinda disrespect it. I’m talking about their altar contest. DOD isn’t a contest, even if first prize gets $3,000. It’s about sharing and celebrating, by having a contest, to me, it cheapens the experience and tradition because it’s not about who can decorate things better than someone else, it’s about celebrating those who are no longer here for one night.

- Grub Street Los Angeles has compiled a "Where to Get Fed for Day of the Dead" list of festivals with traditional food and restaurants with special menus.

- LAist has compiled a "guide to the guides" of events.

Remezcla has a post on how to prepare an altar at home to welcome back the soul of a visiting loved one. As tradition goes, this is when the spirits of the dead make their annual trip back to visit the living, hence the need to welcome them with food, drink and other offerings. (Altars need to be set up by the evening of Oct. 31, so get cracking.)

To the all the revelers, enjoy. And to los muertos, we miss you. Have a safe journey home.