I went for a long walk this morning. My feet carried me through Sherman Heights, a neighborhood directly east of downtown San Diego. I was hoping to see some of the community Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) altars. These outdoor altars, distributed about a few residential streets, were the focus of yesterday’s popular Sherman Heights Muertos Festival, which I missed.
Heading down 24th Street, I spotted one elaborate altar near the sidewalk and was struck by the rich, heartfelt symbolism.
Loved ones who’ve “passed to the other side” are remembered with reverence on Dia de los Muertos, and their spirits are enticed back among the living. Traditional items featured in the altars can include sugar skulls, samples of the deceased person’s favorite food, pan de muertos (bread with a small human figurine baked inside), seeds, flowers, portraits of the dead, candles, alcohol (to toast the arrival of spirits), and papel picado (decorative perforated paper which represents the fragile nature of life).
I don’t know whose spirits are being summoned by this particular altar. I can tell that precious memories are being kept alive among the living, and that those memories contain whole lifetimes of love.