You might think East Los has a thing with the dead. Our cemeteries (and oh yeah, maybe our homicide rate) but it’s another connection. It’s an ancient celebration of living and dead.
Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, a tradition originating in central Mexico on Nov. 2nd, has grown and grown and become a huge tradition on the east side of Los Angeles. Sugar skulls, tamales, candles, pictures, trinkets, revosos, skull painted faces, dancing, spoken word, art, marigolds — these are things you might find on homemade altars to entice those who’ve passed to the other side back for a visit.
A visit back to East Los. Self Help Graphics & Art, the first in the country to create a free public celebration of Day of the Dead, has welcomed the community every year to its Día de los Muertos Celebration since 1973. Through the leadership and initiation of local artists, Self Help Graphics celebrates this holiday in its own unique way, from music, theater, art, to altars celebrating those who have passed on and who we invite to join us for maybe one more dance a drink or a cruise on the boulevard. As the Halloween decorations start dying, ours start living in celebration. Seas of marigolds sold on street corners like roses on Valentine’s Day, women and men, children and the local politicians painted in half-skull paint. Street corner to backyard fandangos singing, dancing and laying down the poetic words for a lost one. The dead celebrated. It’s a beautiful day, a beautiful tradition one that we must continue to carry in our veins, throughout our neighborhoods, until we pass and join the celebration…
Photo by mbtrama, used under a Creative Commons license.