Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dia de los Muertos (Day of The Dead) Festival - Oakland, CA 10/30/2011

You find the most interesting things at a celebration of Dia de Los Muertos (or as it is known in English: Day of the Dead.  Like this painting of recently deceased artist Amy Winehouse: 

Amy is just one of many celebrities who are now celebrated during this unique festival that traces its roots back to the days of the Aztecs.  More than that, it is a celebration of family and friends who have passed on but who are brought out and celebrated once more during this special day.  Not in the literal sense today, though in the past it was the skulls who were brought out and painted bright colors during this event.

Today it consists mainly of photographs, personal belongings (favorite toys, etc.) and place in a special place, an altar of loving remembrance.  Mostly festive, with bright colors, marigold flowers, etc., here are a few examples I encountered at the festival on Sunday:

This Wikipedia article is a rich source on the history of this festival, the various ways it is celebrated in different parts of the world:  History of Dia de los Muertos!

Backtracking to the painting of Amy Winehouse - the festival, as expected, has grown more commercial over the years to the point that often there is a mix of the sacred and the profane as shown here in the wooden boxes on sale at the have Jesus on the cross right next to Bart Simpson mooning us:

Still, it is a very joyous occasion, no time for tears....the dead are brought out to be remembered with their favorite foods, cherished toys, favorite songs, and other remembrances....never to be forgotten.

I put together a video clip of the sights and sounds of this wonderful festival, which seems to grow larger every year. We've gone for the past 5 years and always have a blast. The crowds may be huge (it is likely the largest festival celebrated in Oakland - in the historic Fruitvale district) but it is a family affair with children in abundance and the vibes are gentle and fun at all times.  If you've never experienced this celebration you owe it to yourself to get immersed in this and you'll have a wonderful time in the process:

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