Count on the departed to show up for their big night, appearing in photographs, portraits, sidewalk mosaics made of rice and seeds, with candles and sugar skulls and orange marigolds, with the living dressed as familiar skeletons: lovers gone, heroes remembered and villains, too. Their elegant and often ornate home-made altars are there to be admired, cherished, as Dia de los Muertos celebrates the oldest secular religion in the world, ancestor worship. Don’t like your own family, alive or dead? Choose somebody else’s ancestors to celebrate. Look for Frida Kahlo, Elvis, or Cesar Chavez—somebody's crafted a shrine to a mutual friend or fallen soldier, favorite teacher, or even Steve Jobs. Art, food, live music—this year’s Night of the Altars is tradition ancient and alive, though the downtown Santa Ana location is different this time around. www.nochedealtares.org.
Sat., Nov. 5, 1 p.m., 2011