SAN FRANCISCO— Día de Los Muertos, the annual Mexican holiday celebrating the dead, is usually celebrated with live music, parades and gathering of family and friends. However, due to coronavirus restrictions, processions and live music events for the holiday have been canceled. Instead, the annual Día de Los Muertos celebration in San Francisco will take place virtually this year.
Rosa De Anda, founder of The Marigold Project, has moved the annual Festival of Altars online. In previous years, the Festival of Altars usually consists of five altars designed by artists, and would be located in the Mission Culture Center. Each shrine represents “an element, a universal symbol, and a stage of life,” according to an event description from The Marigold Project. In Mexico, altars (or ofrendas in Spanish) are a traditional and symbolic way for families to honor and connect to their deceased loved-ones. Altars are traditionally decorated with marigolds, painted skulls, flickering candles, and display photos of deceased loved-ones on top to celebrate and remember their lives.
This year, the virtual festivities will take place on November 2, from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm PST. The Festival will be available for public livestream on both Youtube and Facebook, and will consist of a “non-denominational ritual with the altars” located in the Mission Cultural Center. According to a description from event organizers, each altar has a specific symbol and dedication attached to it. The names and meanings of the altars according to dayofthedeadsf.org are listed below:
East Altar: The East Altars calls the element of air, dedicated to our ancestral children/ The circle is used to symbolize the interconnectedness of life and death, and white as the unifying color for all things seen and unseen.
South Altar: The South Altar summons the element of fire, devoted to our ancestral youth, and its red-hot hues and triangle symbolize strength, art, poetry, passion, and balance.
West Altar: The West Altar hails the element of water, honoring adults in tones of blue. The symbol is the square representing rhythms of life, emotions, ocean tides, and moon cycles.
North Altar: The North Altar honors the earth and our ancestors, the tones are green and purple, and the four-direction cross is the symbol. It solicits past, present, and future wisdom from the earth and our beloved Ancestors.
Center Altar: The Center Altar is devoted to self-love, love in relationship to the other, community, and the universe. The symbol is the never-ending spiral, dressed in green and rainbow colors.
To view more event information, or to tune-into the virtual celebration visit dayofthedeadsf.org