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Dia de los Muertos is an annual observance that dates back to the time of the Aztecs. Death was seen as a transition between life on earth and a new life in the hereafter surrounded by the Gods. During the conversion of the native people, Catholicism transformed the ritual and practices of this observance and coincided with the catholic holidays, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. For many centuries the Aztec tradition was that the soul of the departed returned as a hummingbird or a butterfly. Today the tradition is the Monarchs as the returning spirits of their deceased relatives, their mysteriously arriving the same time each year, around Dia de los Muertos. Today the Monarch butterfly is the annual migration that is widely associated with Dia de los Muertos. It is also celebrated with different colors and festive events.

Rose Hills Memorial Park & Mortuary held its 6th annual Dia de los Muertos Cultural Festival in Whittier, CA on Sunday, November 1st. The festival featured a Ballet FolklÏŒrico Popurri, Tlanextli Aztec Fire Dancers, a Catrina and Catrin contest, an alter contest and a performance by La Chamba. It couldn’t be a festival without the food choices that included Mexican food, hot dogs, sweets, snacks,and drinks. It also included a marketplace that offered a variety of Dia de los Muertos arts and crafts, jewelry, face painting, and apparel that tied into the history of the tradition. Jardin De Ninos meaning Children’s Garden was a workshop that was held for children to bring out their artistic side. During this workshop children were able to make marigold paper flowers, monarch butterflies crafts, and activities designed for the event.

The altars made by the families made the festival even more touching because this is what Dia de los Muertos is all about, remembering those who have died. They shared their stories about person along with their memeories and the reason why they chose the colors that they did for the altars. It was a great event for families and friends to attend to celebrate with great music, food, and joyful colors.

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Photography by Melanie Chavarin/M.U.S.E.