I wish I paid more attention to my Spanish teacher when he was lecturing back in high school. But well, I didn’t. And so, Saturday’s El Día De Los Muertos probably wasn’t as fulfilling as it could have been. Don’t get me wrong: it was a great (and really enlightening) cultural experience. But I doubt it compared to that of the bilingual speakers that made up the majority of the crowd.
At the Fiesta Market Place in Santa Ana, where Bush and Third Street intersect, El Centro Cultural de México celebrated their 5th Noche de Altares in honor of the Day of the Dead. There was music, food, dancing, face painting and all those typical to-dos that compose your typical outdoor celebration.
There was one attraction, however, that distinguished the event from all the stereotypical rest: altars with colorful and creative designs made to honor and remember the dead. Many were very personal; others were not (but just as impressive) - like the one created to honor jazz musicians of the past.
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The altars were charming and an honest introduction to another perspective on death.
American culture tends to frown upon thinking about a deceased loved one beyond an “appropriate” amount of time (appropriate being a month or two after the burial, at most). If I were to talk about my deceased grandfather, there would be raised eyebrows and hushed whispers questioning why I was still mourning. It was refreshing, to say the least, that an occasion to honor the dead is celebrated instead (annually, too).
And any occasion to buy those snazzy skeletons and skulls (on purses, earrings, wallets, artwork, you name it) that symbolize El Día is OK by me.
Pictures of those skeletons, skulls and more can be viewed here.