I’ve always been fascinated with Mexican history and culture. The lively music, the tasty food, the vivid colors and the classic architecture are just a few of the things that I love about America’s southern neighbor. I live in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, just a few blocks away from Olvera Street – and while everyone around me is getting excited for the upcoming Halloween festivities, I’m excited about something else: Dia de los Muertos. Aka Day of the Dead.
Starting November 1 and ending the following day, this Mexican holiday offers people the opportunity to gather with their friends and family to pray for and remember loved ones who have passed. What I love about this holiday in particular is that they take a dark subject and turn it into a colorful celebration. Beautiful altars known as ofrendas are built to honor the deceased, sugar skulls, marigolds and various food and drink are everywhere in order to appease the spirits, and depending on where you are in the world, people throw parades and festivals. So in the spirit of your loved ones that are no longer here (or if you simply want to have another reason to throw a party), here are some fun things you can get in order to have a Dia de los Muertos celebration of your own:
Drink: Every year, Trader Joe’s comes out with Dearly Beloved, a special wine for Day of the Dead. While the drink itself is pretty tasty (a flavorful wine blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, Grenache, Petit Sirah, Carignan and Sangiovese with undertones of bing cherry and mocha), let’s be honest – we’re really buying it for the bottle, which bears a beautiful design of flowers interlaced around a skeleton face in the middle.
Dine: Hit up your local bakery and look into getting some traditional sugar skulls and pan de muerto, a Day of the Dead bread that is baked to honor ancestors. You may want to look into a Mexican bakery, as some of the regular ones might not have specific foods. You can also pick up frozen churros from the grocery store, along with nachos, rice and beans.
Decorate: For all you Angelenos out there, you can just head on over to Olvera Street to stock up on Mexican souvenirs and decorations. The Flower District is a gold mine for marigolds and red carnations, which make great centerpieces. Throw a white lace cloth over your table to pay homage to the Day of the Dead skeleton bride. Party City has an array of Day of the Dead decorations, from balloons to paper cutouts, and finish off by passing out mini-skull bottles of Kah Tequila to your guests.
Dance: If you really want to get your party on, head on over to the LA Historic Park for HARD Day of the Dead, where everyone from Skrillex to Calvin Harris will be dropping sick beats all weekend. Throw on your best getup, grab your friends and be prepared to dance into the wee hours of the night.