The Magic of Dia de los Muertos

The spirit of tradition is alive! The Mexican holiday continues to bring families and friends together to celebrate their deceased loved ones.

The two-day festival known as The Day of the Dead begins on Nov. 1. It’s a special day of remembrance filled with prayers, altars, offerings, and most of all celebrations.

It’s not just about dressing up and going to parades. The Mexican tradition honors deceased loved ones with their favorite foods, beverages, and other forms of memorabilia.

The purpose of the day is to encourage spirits to visit the living souls, so they can hear the prayers and see the offerings directed to them. The intent is to celebrate the dead and show them how much they are honored and immortalized in their afterlife.

The holiday has become more than just a Hispanic tradition, it’s become a part of American culture. Disney’s 2017 film, Coco highlighted the cultural significance through the eyes of the young protagonist, Miguel, and received a 97% rating, according to Rotten Tomatoes. The movie was a hit and it broadened the audience and masses to this cultural tradition that has been celebrated for centuries.

In the Bay Area, many parades and workshops are available to everyone who wants to participate. However, due to COVID-19 many of the workshops and parades are limited or do not happen at all due to safety regulations and requirements.

Many Dia de los Muertos celebrations have returned to in-person events following the mandated protocols. In the East Bay, Luna Mexicana, a Ballet company, highlights the tradition through dance, gaudy costumes, candles, food, flowers, and music.

In San Francisco, SOMArts’ is having a free exhibit on the international diversity of the Day of the Dead celebrations in the United States from Oct. 9 through Nov. 5. Through arts and culture, the significance of remembrance and traditional customs affirms the shaping of the growing movement throughout the world.

It’s important to note the day does not solely consist of gifting the dead. It’s common to give gifts to friends and family members in the sharing of the tradition pan de muerto.

Candy skulls and letters are also gifted to one another to bring joy and laughter. The magic of Dia de los Muertos is a beautiful celebration. As Abuelita in the movie, Coco said, “Dìa de los Muertos is the one night of the year our ancestors can visit us.”