Bay Area Blossoms with Remembrance

Sarah Rodriguez, Copy Editor

From Cal State East Bay to the San Francisco Mission District, Dia De Los Muertos festivities are in full swing this November

The San Francisco Bay Area, a melting pot of diverse cultures and traditions, is notorious for its Dia De Los Muertos or “Day of the Dead” celebrations. As the Covid-19 death toll surpasses a staggering five million, the Latin American tradition honoring the lives of lost loved ones reaches new significance.

Originated in Mexico, the holiday holds a unique perspective on death and instead celebrates the lives of the deceased with Ofrendas (offerings/altars), dancing, marigold flowers, Calaveras (sugar skulls), and of course traditional foods. With deep roots in spirituality, the cultural tradition serves as a reunion in which families are able to reconnect once again with their lost loved ones.

Typically celebrated during the first two days of November, the first of the month is intended to honor the innocent lives of infants and children, known as “El Dia De Los Angelitos” while Nov. 2 honors the remaining lives of loved ones that have passed.

Ranging anywhere from San Francisco to California State University East Bay, local Bay Area communities and neighborhoods are coming together to celebrate Dia De Los Muertos in the form of parades, exhibits, and traditional altars.

California State University, East Bay is celebrating the Latin tradition through a class-wide altar on display in the lobby of the University Theatre. In collaboration with Calpulli Ome-Tekpatl, a local Danza Azteca/Mexica dance group, CSUEB students came together during a workshop to create the display, complete with family pictures and offerings in the form of their loved one’s favorite foods, snacks, and toys.

“Danzantes from Ome-Tekpatl led the creation of the altar (ofrenda) and taught us about the traditions as they practice them. Then they shared a few Danzas (Aztec Dances) and taught our gathered community a little bit of Danza,” added Dr. Eric Kupers, a professor in the Department of Theatre & Dance.

Members of Calpulli Ome-Tekpatl led the construction of the altar through a traditional Dia De Los Muertos ceremony, providing offerings and Azteca dances. The exhibit will be available during the week of Nov. 1 and will be on display for two weeks up until Nov. 14. To view the altar and its stunning lights at night, check out the video above.

San Francisco’s Mission District, a lively community known for its deep Latino roots, continues to reign in their extravagant Dia De Los Muertos celebrations. On Oct. 28, the community started the festivities with a market-style event, filled with local vendors, artists, live music, face painting, and traditional foods.

The community is kicking off the month with back-to-back Dia De Los Muertos events including the Festival of Altars, held virtually this year, and their 35th annual “Ni Tanto Ni Tan Muertos” (Neither So Much, Nor So Dead) celebrations hosted by the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts from Nov. 7 through Nov. 19.

For those that have lost family and friends to the COVID-19 pandemic, we offer our deepest condolences and embrace the sentimental perspective that surrounds Dia De Los Muertos.