A Vibrant Local Tradition: Dia de los Muertos in San Francisco

by Sarah G on October 25, 2010

in Living Like a Local,San Francisco

Oh, the joys of living in a culturally diverse city like San Francisco! We get it all: spicy Indian food, 12-person Afro-funk bands and awesome, traditional holiday celebrations like the Dia de los Muertos — or, Day of the Dead — celebration in the Mission District.

An altar in San Francisco

About the holiday: Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday that (contrary to the name) actually consists of two days of celebration, the first being All Souls Day, the second All Saints Day. The holiday is a time to remember loved ones who have passed, and involves building elaborate altars, trips to loved ones’ graves and spending time with family.

Dia de los Muertos in SF: Thanks to the large Mexican population in the Mission District in SF, a vibrant Dia de los Muertos celebration has become one of the city’s greatest — and, lesser known — traditions. The celebration starts at 6PM with a huge procession of live musicians, Aztec dancers and people in costumes, around Garfield Square. Afterward, festival-goers can walk around to the different altars and eat delicious food. Check out this great video for a full glimpse of the celebration:

Outside of the Mission there are some other Dia de los Muertos celebrations going on around the SF Bay Area:

  • The San Jose Museum of Modern Art is putting on a family event with art activities and live performances — plus admission is free! Oct. 30th, from 11AM – 5PM.
  • The SF Symphony is putting on their third annual Dia de los Muertos Family Concert. Come at 1PM for sugar skull-making demonstrations, paper flower-making, face painting and more. Sat, Nov. 6th at 2PM. Tickets are $15-68.

Sidenote: I’m excited to say I’ll be heading to Oaxaca, Mexico to experience Dia de los Muertos in it’s home-country. Stay tuned for details upon my return!

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