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November 03, 2022

Dia de los Muertos - Day of the Dead

Day of the dead is an ancient Mayan and Aztec tradition to honor the departed.

With the arrival of the Spanish, the celebrations were incorporated into the Spanish All Saints Day and All Souls Day on November 1 and 2.

It is customary to have an alter to honor a loved one.  Old Town becomes transformed for this celebration of life.

Marigolds are the flower of choice as they ward off evil spirits and their vibrant color acts as a guide for any lost spirit.

Traditions vary, but departed children are celebrated on Nov. 1.  The children's alter includes sugar skulls, fruits and candles.

Disney’s Coco departed animals act as spirit guides.

And departed adults honored on Nov 2.

Traditional adult alters include water, breads and candles.  Often including items used in life. 

This alter is a bit different in that instead of water, a tequila cask is included.  I like it!

Old Town has it’s own alter to honor the ladies that were dedicated to the park.

There is a large public alter in the Old Town Market.

Guarded by a coyote.

Throughout the park are skeletons in colorful, often wacky, dress.
The bride

and her attendants

and Fran

This troupe has a coyote as their fiddler.

Another bride with her groom and wedding cake.

and flower girl

The father and mother of the bride are ready to party!

The artist

Some of the visitors get totally immersed in the festivities.


The Old Town Sheriff was there to ensure no zombies interfere with the festivities.

We spent some time meandering through the Estudillo Museum.  The Estudillo family was quite prominent in early San Diego history.  The museum is housed in the original adobe home.

In the book Ramona ~Hellen Jackson Hunt the adobe is the setting for the wedding.

I’ve mentioned before that both my brother and Fran’s brother have married Latinas.  In their family homes a private alter is maintained for the deceased family members.  Probably something similar to this alter in the Estudillo home..

As we rode our bikes back through Mission Bay Park it was windy, which not only brought out a lot of kids with kites,

but big kids with Wing Foil Boards




  1. It’s Gay…what a fun day. I would love to have been at Olde Town for those festivities. I have seen the flower girl several times there all alone. I might have to rethink marigolds…heard they ward off mosquitoes, but never heard about the evil spirits. Those dresses are awesome, but have to say the bride’s mother and father are way cool!

    1. Hi Ga it was a fun day! The parents of the bride were pretty cool, my fav was the coyote playing the fiddle with his mariachi friends.
      Were there many celebrations in your area?

    2. I’m sure there was something going on Jeff, but we were unaware of times, dates and places. I need to add Day of the Dead to the calendar for next year…👍

  2. I've always been fascinated by Day of the Dead practices. I love that it's so colorful and lively, instead of sad and depressing, and I love that the whole community observes the holidays together. It must make people feel less alone in their grief.

    1. Has the festivities made it to Portugal? It still sees a bit odd to have Mariachis at a cemetery, instead of solemn quiet. But I like the way that it is about fond memories and not grief.

    2. All Souls Day and All Saints Day are definitely observed here, but it's nothing like Day of the Dead. It's a time for families to get together, go to church, etc, and there some Halloween type aspects - kids go door to door seeking treats - but nothing like Mexico.


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