Celebrating the Day of the Dead in Southern California

Imagine it’s 6:00 p.m. at Plaza Olvera in downtown Los Angeles, and the Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, procession is about to start. Hundreds of people gather at the hallowed plaza, watching energetic Aztec dancers make their way into the procession. Young and old alike gaze at the colorful altars built to pay homage to deceased relatives and friends.

Many places in Southern California now host Day of the Dead events, including Hollywood, Olvera Street in Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Old Town San Diego and Lynwood’s Plaza Mexico. Visitors don’t just learn more about the tradition; they can also participate in altar decoration contests and even dress up as decorated calavera (skull) characters. 

Then there’s the food. Traditional Day of the Dead fare, like pan de muerto, can be found at several local Mexican bakeries such as La Favorita in East Los Angeles. To find a bakery that sells Day of the Dead items, try the Cupcake Maps Mobile app. Alternatively, experiment with readily available recipes online such as this pan de muerto recipe or this recipe for Día de los Muertos cookies.

For families with children, there are fun, educational apps about the Day of the Dead such as Rosita y Conchita in 3D for iOS users. This is a bilingual storybook with narration in Spanish and English. It’s a story about one sister building an altar to remember and connect with her departed twin sister. The app also has suggestions for other activities like how to make a sugar skull cookie or draw one of the characters in the book.