Some say that at this time of year the veil between this world and the spiritual world is the thinnest and a good time to remember and honor those who have gone before us. Many communities throughout the world, especially those with Roman Catholic heritage, have Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) observances and celebrations on November 2 in connection with All Souls’ Day. Tucson has its All Souls Procession celebrating a diversity of cultures.
Pre-Christian origins of this holiday can be traced back to indigenous traditions of various cultures. An Aztec festival was dedicated to Mictecacihuatl, Queen of the underworld, who is said to preside over contemporary Day of the Dead festivities and associated with the cult of Santa Muerte. The Gaelic harvest festival of Samhain occurs on November 1, a time some believe that humans and spirits easily cross over from one world to the Otherworld.
Here in San Diego we delight in celebrating our rich multicultural tapestry. Wonderful grocery stores such as Pancho Villa’s Farmer’s Market help provide a large selection of fresh, delicious and inexpensive items for our dinner table. At this time of year we especially enjoy their freshly made tamales.
The tamales are made fresh daily and traditionally wrapped in cornhusks.
Also seen on the table is Earthtones “Day of the Dead” hand-painted decorative art tile made in Tucson.
Printed on the back of the tile are these words: “In a small town in Mexico one family begins preparations for an annual celebration. El día de los Muertos, ‘The Day of the Dead’, to welcome the spirits of their loved ones home again.”
Also seen on our table is the traditional Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead), next to a dish with tamale de puerco (pork tamale) en pollo con mole verde (chicken in a green mole sauce).
Traditions connected with the holiday include the building of altars and providing offerings (ofrendas). Día de los Muertos in Old Town San Diego will be celebrated with a presentation of over 30 altars, live music and skull painting, traditional bilingual poetry readings, festive restaurants, and a candlelight procession to El Campo Santo cemetery.
Día de los Muertos at Hollywood Forever Cemetery is one of the biggest Day of the Dead festivals in Southern California.