Colorful altars and other traditional celebrations of Día de los Muertos, one of Mexico’s most revered and festive holidays, return to Old Town San Diego on November 1 and 2, 2012. This community-wide commemoration, which honors ancestors and other deceased loved ones with special menus, music, dancing and craft activities, is free and designed for all ages.
Not to be confused with Halloween, Day of the Dead is when the living joyfully invite the spirits of relatives and friends to return “home” along paths lined with brilliant orange marigolds to find altars with samplings of their favorite food and drink. This traditional annual reunion reflects the Mexican’s view of life and death as a natural continuum and is now celebrated in many countries.
More than 50 personalized altars – some honoring Old Town’s historic figures – will be on display in museums, shops, hotels and restaurants, including Cafe Coyote at 2461 San Diego Avenue, the title sponsor of the 2012 Old Town San Diego’s Día de los Muertos celebration.
Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO), San Diego County’s leading preservation group and the operator of the Whaley House Museum and Old Adobe Chapel in Old Town, is presenting the two-day event, now in its third year. In 2011, this popular holiday attracted 10,000participants, according to SOHO.
For the Tour of the Altars both days, families and individuals, young and old alike, may follow a free tour of the altars map to enjoy the traditional and contemporary artistic installations, or join in a candlelit procession on November 2. The lively procession will begin at 6 p.m. at the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park plaza and follow San Diego Avenue several blocks to El Campo Cemetery. There, participants will find a community altar, where they may leave photographs, messages, flowers, or tokens of affection for their loved ones.
Free maps and candles will be available at participating businesses throughout Old Town. In addition, information booths will be set up at the north and south ends of Old Town, at the Whaley House Museum, and Old Town Market.
Old Town restaurants will create menus and Día de los Muertos drink specials for the occasion. Traditional Mexican holiday fare includes sweet bread called pan de muerto, chicken or turkey mole, tamales, maize cakes and pumpkin dishes. Tequila, one of Mexico’s gifts to the world, will be among the beverages offered, thanks to corporate sponsor Azuñia Tequila.
Family activities will include Day of the Dead sugar skull decorating, mask making, paper flower making; and face painting. These workshops will be free or cost a small fee to cover materials.
Free live music and folkloric dancing will be presented on Old Town’s plazas and courtyards. Artists will exhibit works that speak to this legendary holiday and the power of love and ritual that connect us through time.
“We’d like everyone to come to Old Town on November 1 and 2 and feel a zest for life along with gratitude to those who came before us,” said Alana Coons, SOHO’s education & communications director, who created Old Town’s Day of the Dead festivities. “This is meant to be a celebration of cultures and history in San Diego’s most historic neighborhood.”
For more information, visit www.sddayofthedead.org or contact SOHO at (619) 297-9327.
Above image courtesy of Save Our Heritage Organisation.
Preview image courtesy of morgueFile.