(San Francisco) – The activities around the Day of the Dead have been non-stop at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (MCCLA) since late October. In addition to an abundance of events around November 2nd, the actual Day of the Dead, hundreds of students have visited the altars and art installations daily, while the documentaries “El Último Adiós” by filmmaker Diego Huerta and “Aqui Seguimos” by filmmaker Carlos Solis were shown this past weekend.
The theme of MCCLA 36th Annual Day of the Dead Exhibit is “You Will Always Live In My Heart.” – “Siempre Vivirás En Mi Corazón”
MCCLA has more activities scheduled throughout November 18th, and the cultural value is great and delicious, one may say. There is a “Mole” competition and tasting coming up, additional “El Último Adiós” screenings, altar-viewing at the gallery, and a closing reception.
The Day of the Dead is an ancestral tradition greatly celebrated in Mexico and other Latin American countries, reshaped by the Catholic church. In the states of Oaxaca and Michoacán, México is where the exuberance of this tradition reached higher peaks. In the 1970s, San Francisco’s Latinos began celebrating the Day of the Dead, and here, this celebration has reached high peaks and greater audiences. Thousands of people of all skin colors gathered in the Mission District on November 2nd to participate or witness the various displays of culture: altars and art installations, the processions, Aztec dances, Caribbean drumming, face-painting, and more.
The central idea of the Day of the Dead is to remember and honor the people who departed. Some say there are three deaths. Dr. Ayala elaborates: “The first death is when you take your last breath, the second death is when you are buried or cremated, and the third and final death is when you are forgotten, which is why we celebrate the memory of our ancestors and loved ones. We remember them every year and build an altar in their honor, remembering their favorite food, music, flowers, and activities. We honor their memory and have a celebration in their honor so they are not forgotten, and they will always live in our hearts.”
Altars are one of the essential elements to honor the dead, and people create them at their homes, churches, businesses, and community centers. People believe their loved ones will come to visit them on the night of November 2nd. The altars usually display the photos or names of those who died, papel picado, pan de muerto, Cempazuchitl flowers (Marigolds), as well as their favorite foods or drinks.
Altars have evolved into political and art installations. This year, for instance, Latino artist Adrian Arias created an art installation honoring the nineteen children who died on May 24, 2022, the victims of a mass shooting at their school in Uvalde, Texas. “There are more than eight million of the type of weapon used by the shooter, a person with mental illness, and these firearms are sold indiscriminately. ” Arias said. “This is my way of saying STOP selling arms like these. His installation is composed of drawings, papel picado, and a firearm.
The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts is located at 2868 Mission St, San Francisco, CA, 94110. One of the best ways to get there is by Bart; exit at the Mission/24th St. Station., via Muni buses #14 and #49.
The upcoming events are listed on MCCLA’s website: missionculturalcenter.org
“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.”– Marcus Tullius Cicero
Lupita Franco Peimbert writes about culture, art, and travel. She is a former Spanish-language television news reporter and has a day job as Public Affairs and Communications professional in California. Instagram: @Lupitasocial; Twitter: @Lupitanews. You may contact her at Lupitanews@gmail.com or (415)531-8573.