Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dia de Muertos

Dia de Muertos has become so mainstream it no longer needs an introduction - everyone knows what it means. While the Pre-Hispanic people of Mexico probably never envisioned this or this happening to their ancient cultural tradition, it seems that the Day of the Dead is here to stay, which I am happy about because embracing the cultures of immigrants (as long as it's done respectfully) is a good thing for our diverse country.
What better way to embrace this Mexican holiday than to attend a Dia de Los Muertos festival at the San Luis Rey Mission in Oceanside? So that's what we did last Sunday after breakfast with a couple of friends visiting from the East Coast and even though I was sick and probably should have stayed home resting I still had a nice time and got to take many photos. 
The San Luis Rey Mission was established in 1798 during the Spanish colonization and used for various different purposes throughout its history until the early 20th century when it was given to Franciscan Friars from Mexico, briefly became a Franciscan college, and now is a home to Friars, along with being a historical landmark, a museum, a church, a cemetery, an archaeological treasure, and a retreat center (where I'm highly interested in the Quiet Mondays). It's also a beautiful and solemn place to host a Day of the Dead event.
We began our time at the festival with a quiet stroll through the cemetery. I've always found cemeteries to be comforting and peaceful and when I was in high school I spent a considerable amount of time at the local cemetery even though I didn't know anyone buried there (although sadly this changed several times over a few years...). A cemetery during a Day of the Dead celebration is even more special than usual with all the offerings and colorful flowers adorning the statues and graves. The Marigolds signify the anniversary of death and the petals, along with those of other flowers, serve as a pleasant aromatic trail to lead the spirits to and from their graves.
After the cemetery we walked around the Mission and found children drawing chalk memory squares, bright elaborate altars, and vendors selling many Day of the Dead themed goods. The thing about being sick is you generally don't have the energy to do much so although I would have enjoyed getting my face painted or taking a closer look inside more tents to see what was being sold I just couldn't deal with the crowd (yay, bronchitis!). 
My favorite exhibit at the festival was the Por Siempre Car Club's classic low-rider trunk altars. I thought it creatively symbolized the evolution of ancient traditions along with merging a modern Mexican-American culture with a conventional Mexican one. Also the cars are gorgeous and the altars were awesome (and it was less crowded). 
I look forward to the next Dia de los Muertos celebration at the San Luis Rey Mission. I think the event planners did a great job in keeping the festival respectful of the Mexican holiday and made it an inviting place for families and friends of all backgrounds. Have a great and healthy week everyone!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good pictures, quiet collorful!