Last night we went to the Noche de Altares festival in Santa Ana. It is the largest Dia de los Muertes festival in Orange County and it was very moving and beautiful. People had altars set up to honor their loved ones who passed, some honoring many many generations of loved ones. Some of the altars were very simple, while others were quite elaborate and all were exquisite. I did not bring my camera, but wish I had. One of the vendors was selling these painted skulls that were absolutely beautiful.
I found myself alternating between crying and laughing throughout the night. There were two altars set up honoring people who had died of HIV/AIDS. I cried about my cousin Gary all over again. There were at least three altars honoring Frida Kahlo, I giggled about that a little bit. I love Frida Kahlo's art, and having three altars there honoring her was fun. One of the altars, honoring a man, had both a can of Spam and a pack of Lucky Strikes on it. I can only imagine how he died.
There were food vendors selling sugar skulls, tacos, churros, and other Mexican favorites, and other vendors selling any manner of Mexican handicrafts. We got their a little too late for the candle lighting and processional. I was bummed about that. I kept thinking about my friend Rosemary who passed away suddenly in April. One, she would have loved the festival, and two, I miss her terribly. I was unable to attend her memorial service in Minnesota, and I still feel like I need to do something tangible to get some closure. Not sure what I am going to do about that.