Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day of the Dead/El Día de los Muertos

Day of the Dead (El Día de los Muertos in Spanish) is a celebration that melds European Catholicism with Aztec and other Mesoamerican traditions, honoring ancestors and the recently departed. It combines Christianity's All Souls Day (Nov. 2) and All Saints Day (Nov. 1) with the annual Aztec celebration of the goddess Mictecacihuatl, as well as other indigenous peoples' festivals and traditions that honor the dead and help their spirits pass safely into the next world.

At Mission Branch we will be honoring El Día de los Muertos in a couple ways. The first is that we will be erecting an altar. The spirits of the deceased are thought to pay a visit to their families during Día de los Muertos, and altars are often prepared for those spirits. An altar usually consists of offerings such as mementos, photos, and favorite foods of ancestors, family members, friends and even favorite celebrities or honored citizens who have passed away. Patrons are welcome to add something to our altar here at Mission Library. The display will be on the 2nd floor near the Reference Desk. Additionally, the Mission Branch children's department will host a workshop where children of all ages can learn how to build their own Day of the Dead altar. This program will take place Friday, October 30, from 3-5pm.

And, of course, you won't want to miss the annual Day of the Dead procession here in the Mission District. In San Francisco, Day of the Dead has been celebrated since the early 70s with art, music, performances and a walking procession. Many galleries, gift stores and cafes have altars, art exhibits and performances. People are encouraged to bring photos, food, candles and souvenirs that remind them of the people they're honoring. These items can be placed on community altars throughout the procession. This event takes place on Monday, Nov. 2nd, at 7pm, beginning at 24th and Bryant Streets, and ends at a "Festival of the Altars" in Garfield Park, which is at 26th and Harrison Streets. This event is organized by Rescue Culture Collective. Please visit for event details and more history.


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