SANTA ANA The sound of deep conch shell blasts and the earthy scent of rising incense signaled the start of the city’s signature Day of the Dead event on Fourth Street early Saturday afternoon.
In its 11th year, Noche de Altares (Night of the Altars), was expected to draw tens of thousands over nine hours with its entertainment stages, community-based vendors and more than 100 ofrendas (altars) dedicated to the memory of the deceased.
What is Día de los Muertos?
Behind Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is a Mexican tradition that each year, on Nov. 1 and 2, Death allows the barriers separating the living and the dead to fall, an opportunity for the dead to visit and console the living. It grew from the beliefs of the indigenous Meso-American and Aztec peoples that go back at least 3,000 years, experts say.
The Spanish conquerors of Mexico, in an effort to Christianize the observance, moved it from the ninth month of the Aztec calendar – our August – to the Catholic feast days of All Saints and All Souls. Associated with the observance are sugar skulls, recalling the use of skulls in ancient Mexican civilizations such as the Toltecs, Maya and Aztecs, as well as marigolds and candles, which were believed to help guide the dead back to their loved ones.