Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Day in Olvera Street, Downtown L.A.

Dia de los Muertos is a wonderful Mexican holiday. There is no better place to see the traditional sights and sounds than historic Olvera Street in Downtown L.A. Olvera Street is the oldest street in downtown Los Angeles, named after Augstin Olvera in 1877.

Calle Olvera has been preparing for Dia de los Muertos for the last couple of weeks (maybe to go along side with Halloween, although the locals will remind you that it is not like Halloween at all!) with decorations, flowers, and a procession that travels down the street nightly.

The most visible aspect of this day are the calaverdas, or skulls. They take every form you can think of from sugar skulls to ceramics to paper masks. The idea is to make death less frightening and more welcoming. Dia de los Muertos is a festival of remembrance of loved ones, the enjoyment of life and the reminder that life and death are not as separate as we think they are. Skeletons are usually depicted enjoying everyday life, such as eating drinking and celebrating. A favorite (especially for my wife and myself) is the popular marriage scene.

There is plenty to eat and drink, and the environment is always fun. While in Downtown, especially in late October and November, make sure to stop by one afternoon to witness the Dia de los Muertos celebrations! Parking is only $8.00 across the street, and Olvera is located close to 101 Freeway. I recommend bringing cash for the local merchants, and make sure to buy yourself a sugar skull or two!

Olvera Street continues to be a center for not only Mexican heritage, but Hispanics from all over Latin America. This is the best place to experience Dia in Southern California! Many local celebrations occur in front of the Old Plaza Church.

Here, children from the local schools color their calaverda masks and enjoy hitting a skeleton pinata!

Happy Halloween and Dia de los Muertos! Have a safe holiday this weekend!

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