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November 3, 2018 - Today we were in Riverside, CA for their annual Day of the Dead festivities.  The Day of the Dead, in Spanish Día de Muertos, is a multi-day holiday that focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support them in their spiritual journey.  For the pre-Columbian Mexican cultures, death was a natural phase in life’s long continuum.  The dead were still members of the community, kept alive in memory and spirit, and during Día de Muertos, they temporarily returned to Earth.  Today’s Día de Muertos celebration is a mash-up of pre-Hispanic religious rites and Christian feasts.  The Mexican Day of the Dead celebration is similar to other societies' observances of a time to honor the dead.  The Spanish tradition, for instance, includes festivals and parades, as well as gatherings of families at cemeteries to pray for their deceased loved ones at the end of the day.

We started our adventure in Riverside's White Park, which is the site where all of the altars are created.

Although we've attended other Day of the Dead celebrations, this is the first authentic celebration that we've seen.  The individuals and/or families who have created these altars are just regular people, there isn't any commercial side to this.  These people simply want to honor and remember those loved ones who have passed.  There is a lot of symbolism associated with the altars.  In the pictures below, you'll see many marigolds, the flowers of the dead; muertos (the bread of the dead); sugar skulls, cardboard skeletons, tissue paper decorations, fruit and nuts, incense, and other traditional foods and decorations.

Five schools were here remembering their dead.  One school lost one boy seven days ago and another boy one month ago, same school.

This ceramic catrina was beautiful.

We didn't stay for the big parade later in the afternoon, but we did see some great costumes and makeup while we were there.

It was a very emotional experience for us since we saw a lot of tears and a lot of big smiles as people talked about those who have gone.

For lunch we stopped at Tio's Tacos, where the formal procession would begin in the early afternoon.

I had my usual shrimp with garlic sauce, along with rice and beans.

Judy had cheese enchiladas with rice and beans.  Everything was great!

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