Dia de los Muertos: traditions still alive in COVID-19


Ofrendas are altars created to welcome the spirits of the deceased. An ofrenda at Hollywood Forever Cemetery on October 23, 2011. Photo credit: Malingering on Flicker.com

Eileen Osuna, Staff Writer

Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday of remembrance and celebration where families welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives for a brief reunion from Nov. 1, which is “el Dia de Los Inocentes” or Day of the Children, to Nov. 2, All Souls Day.

The holiday begins at midnight on Halloween where the gates of heaven open to allow the spirits of children to rejoin their families for 24 hours and ends on the following day, where the celebrations shift to honor the departed adults.

During this time, it is believed that the souls of the dead are awakened from their eternal sleep to reunite with their loved ones and share celebrations because the border between the spirit world and the real world dissolves.

Since Dia de Los Muertos is a celebration of life rather than a moment of mourning and sadness, the day is marked with food, drinks, music, and festivities that the dead enjoyed in their life.

Moreover, the day is made up of traditions and symbols that are synonymous with the holiday, such as ofrendas, sugar skulls, and marigolds.

Living family members honor the dead with ofrendas, altars filled with a collection of objects like food, drinks, candles, items of personal significance, and anything else that the deceased enjoyed topped with their photograph to welcome their spirit.

Ofrendas can also contain sugar skulls, or Calaveras de azucar, which are decorative skulls in the forms of sugar candies, clay decorations, and the most popular form, face painting. The skulls are usually drawn with a smile and have the name of the deceased on them.

Not to be forgotten, marigolds, otherwise known in Mexico as Cempasuchitl, represent the beauty and fragility of life and are laid out as walkways that guide the spirits back to Earth.

Furthermore, Dia de Los Muertos wouldn’t be the celebration it is without the festivities and parades that make it so special, some of which will still continue throughout Los Angeles this year despite COVID-19 restrictions.

Dia de los Muertos on Olvera St

Community altars will be on display with limited access and social distance requirements while a virtual celebration will be held on Nov. 1 at 6 p.m.


City of Downey

The seventh annual Dia de Los Muertos Art Festival celebration has been moved from the Downey Theatre to the internet titled “En La Casa” and will be live on Nov. 1 at 11 a.m.


In partnership with the Downey Theatre, Stay Gallery will host a virtual group exhibition, La Ofrenda, featuring work from 54 Los Angeles County-based artists.


Downtown Santa Monica

There will be a public art installation on Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Pier. Sculptures of La Catrina by local artist Ricardo Soltero will be viewable at nine locations throughout the Promenade and four locations on the Pier beginning Oct. 31-Nov. 2.


Hollywood Forever

The annual Day of the Dead celebration will be virtual this year with a free live stream hosted by Fernande Kelly with performances by Los Lobos, Buyepongo, and Tropa Magica.


Grand Park’s Downtown Dia de Los Muertos in Partnership with Self Help Graphics & Art

Listen and learn about the traditions of Dia de Los Muertos by going through 11 altars located throughout Grand Park from Oct. 24-Nov. 4. Park hours are from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.