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Celebrating our Loved Ones on Dia de Los Muertos


Dia de los Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead, is a traditional Mexican holiday that is celebrated annually on November 1st and 2nd. The holiday is a time to honor and remember loved ones who have passed away. Here’s a brief overview of the holiday:


The holiday has its roots in ancient Aztec culture, where it was believed that the dead could return to the living world for one day each year. The Aztecs would celebrate the lives of their deceased loved ones with offerings of food, drink, and flowers.


After the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the 16th century, the holiday became more closely associated with the Catholic All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Today, it is celebrated throughout Mexico and in many other parts of the world.


Dia de los Muertos is a time to celebrate life and death. It is believed that the spirits of the dead return to the world of the living for one day each year to be with their families and friends. The holiday is a way to honor and remember loved ones who have passed away.

Important aspects of the holiday

One of the most important aspects of Dia de los Muertos is the creation of an altar, or ofrenda, which is used to honor deceased loved ones. The altar typically includes photographs of the deceased, candles, flowers (especially marigolds), food, and drink. Other important aspects of the holiday include sugar skulls (calaveras), which are decorated with colorful icing and used as offerings on the altar, and papel picado, which are colorful paper cutouts that are hung up around the altar.  Add incense, water (to quench thirst after a long journey), salt (to purify and cleanse), and personal items that belonged to the deceased to help make your altar more personal.  My wife and I visited a local Southern California farm to get our freshly cut Marigolds for set up of our altar.

Holiday festivals:

Dia de los Muertos is a vibrant and colorful holiday that is celebrated throughout the United States. Here are some of the best Dia de los Muertos festivals in the US, along with their dates, times, and locations:

  1. Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, California: This music-filled Day of the Dead celebration takes place every year at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Attendees can expect to find colorful altars, Aztec dancers, and a pyramid-shaped mausoleum photobooth hosted by Netflix. The event is held on November 2nd.  Hollywood Forever Cemetery

  2. Muertos Fest in San Antonio, Texas: This Day of the Dead celebration takes place in the La Villita Historic Arts Village and features drummers dressed as skeletons, traditional Aztec dancers, and puppeteers animating ornate skeleton puppets. The event is held on November 1st and 2nd.  Muertos Fest

  3. Day of the Dead Chicago in Chicago, Illinois: Held at the National Museum of Mexican Art, this Day of the Dead celebration immerses guests in a full art experience. The museum and surrounding area are turned into an elaborate work of art, featuring visual displays that reveal the story of the Day of the Dead. The event is held on November 2nd. Day of the Dead Chicago

  4. Florida Day of the Dead in Fort Lauderdale, Florida: This event features a huge parade called the Skeleton Processional that pays homage to traditional cultural elements of the holiday while incorporating skeleton alligators, sea turtles, pirates, and mermaids. The event is held on November 2nd.  Florida Day of the Dead

  5. Day of the Dead San Diego in San Diego, California: This event features a procession that starts at Sherman Heights Community Center and ends at Chicano Park. Attendees can expect to find live music, food vendors, and a community altar where they can leave offerings for their loved ones who have passed away. The event is held on November 1st. Day of the Dead San Diego

  6. Day of the Dead Festival in New York City, New York: This festival features live music, traditional Mexican food, face painting, and a community altar where attendees can leave offerings for their loved ones who have passed away. The event is held on November 2nd.  Day of the Dead Festival

  7. Muertos y Marigold Parade in Albuquerque, New Mexico: This parade features floats, mariachi bands, Aztec dancers, and giant puppets that celebrate life and death. The parade ends with a celebration at historic Barelas neighborhood with food vendors and live music. The event is held on November 2nd. Muertos y Marigold Parade

  8. Tucson’s All Souls Procession in Tucson, Arizona: This procession features thousands of participants who walk through downtown Tucson carrying candles and wearing costumes to honor their loved ones who have passed away. The procession ends with a finale performance that includes fire dancers and acrobats. The event is held on November 6th. Tucson All Souls Procession

  9. San Francisco in California: San Francisco has several events throughout the city to celebrate Dia de los Muertos including art exhibits, live music performances, and community altars where attendees can leave offerings for their loved ones who have passed away.  San Francisco Day of the Dead

  10. Orange County in Irvine, California, University of California, Irvine Department of Sociology in partnership with Northgate Gonzalez Market is hosting Dia de los Mertos 2023.  Guests can participate in the virtual community altar, enjoy Aztec dance and Ballet Folklorico performances and a Mariachi concert by the Grammy Award-winning Mariachi Divas while visiting the face-painting and sugar skull crafts booths.  UC Irvine & Northgate Gonzalez Market

Please note that dates and times are subject to change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. Search your area for local times, locations and events happening to join the celebration.  You may see a Dia de Los Muertos celebration on You Tube below.

The passing of our loved ones is ever so painful in the moment.  However, their traditions and memories while with us and how they impacted each of our lives can live on forever through this glorious celebration!  Take part in a festival near you and remember those in your life who have passed on to protect and guide us through our moral life on Earth.  Blessings to all of you!

For Dia de Los Muertos family fun entertainment, watch “The Book of Life” on Max and “Coco” on Disney +.  

Written by FTM Partner & Staff Writer

Photo from Jhovani Morales


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