Mexican or not, we all have a reason to celebrate Día de los Muertos—unless of course, you hate your family and friends. Assuming you don't, we spoke with Ben Vazquez, a teacher at Valley High School in SanTana and volunteer behind the annual Noche de Altares, one of the largest Día de los Muertos celebrations in the country. We asked him to give us some do's and dont's for the big night:
DO make an altar at home for your loved ones who have passed. Fill it with candles, flowers (particularly marigolds, which draw the dead back to the earth), and all of their favorite things.
DO raise a toast. If your loved one enjoyed a particular beverage, have that in his or her honor.
Noche de Altares at the corner of Birch and Fourth streets, Santa Ana; nochedealtares.org. Sat., 1-10 p.m. Free.
DON'T think celebrating on this day is on par with Cinco de Mayo. It's meant to be lively and inviting, but it's a family holiday, and getting drunk at such a festival would make you a pendejo.
DO paint your face with colorful swirls, flowers and sacred hearts. You can even get it done at Noche de Altares. A half-painted face is okay, too.
DO dress up. The traditional dress is that of El Catrín or La Catrina—Dapper Death and his dame. This means a top hat, cane and tails for El Catrín, and a big floppy hat and Victorian-era dress for La Catrina—draw on the influences of legendary late-19th-century Mexican caricaturist José Guadalupe Posada.
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DON'T think this holiday is related to Halloween in any way. You shouldn't pair your costume with a painted sugar-skull face or dress up like the quintessential Mexican with a sombrero and poncho. Día de los Muertos isn't meant to be spooky or a joke.
We wish this last one could go without saying, but this also means don't be the slutty Día de los Muertos girl. If you can't be El Catrín or La Catrina, just wear your normal clothes—with grandma in mind.