San Francisco’s Dia de los Muertos 2014

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Dia de Los Muertos Skull San Francisco 2014 | The Girl Next Door is BlackSan Francisco loves a good celebration and any excuse to dress in costume. Sunday’s Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration proved no exception. The holiday, which originated in Mexico, honors both the dead and the living – an appreciation of the cycle of life. For a few hours last night, hundreds of people converged in the Mission district – the neighborhood often at the center of San Francisco’s gentrification tensions – for the festivities.

Celebrants erected elaborate altars in remembrance of deceased loved ones. Aztec dancers and musicians in ornate costumes and striking makeup led a procession through the streets. Bay Area residents lined sidewalks to watch the parade. Some enjoyed front row seats from the comfort of their apartments, while others opted to follow along with the roving entertainment.

A sea of bodies of various colors and ages, with faces painted like sugar skullswearing marigold headpieces, dressed as resurrected brides, carrying parasols and candles, many clothed in black and white, ambled down the streets to the sound of rhythmic percussion beats. A comment I overheard aptly sums up the evening: “This is definitely better than Halloween!”


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  • Mrs. AOK
    October 13, 2015

    Thank you for sharing! I think often times people misconstrue the meaning of Dia de los Muertos, we have been reduced to Halloween. I find it fascinating that sugar skulls line the aisles of our stores, yet nobody wants to learn the culture. Honestly, I have no issue with people dressing up as Catrina or “sugar skulls”- I understand, the culture is beautiful. What I do have a problem with is a person wanting to do so without some education first. Also, I would love for stores to not present sugar skulls and any other Day of the Dead trinkets as Halloween.
    Again, thank you for educating! 🙂

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      October 13, 2015

      I hear you. Going to this festival gave me a new perspective of the holiday. Seeing the beautiful, heartfelt altars people built to celebrate the lives of their loved ones really touched me. When someone dies, many of us – at least in the “Western” world – focus on the sorrow of those still living. We hold wakes which are generally somber occasions. Death is natural event we’ll all experience. The idea of celebrating the life of someone who’s passed and honoring how they lived resonates with me. I think it’s a wonderful tradition.

  • Lloyd Lofthouse
    October 10, 2015

    I usually avoid big crowds, but I did go to another festival in SF a few years ago and if you haven’t been, then you might want to give it a try in 2016. Too late for 2015.

    The Asian Heritage Street Celebration

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      October 10, 2015

      I haven’t been to that festival yet, looks like a good one to check out! Thanks for the recommendation, Lloyd!

  • sunshinetalia
    November 16, 2014

    Thanks for linking up with #wanderlust!! Our next linkup is on the 3rd December, so mark it in your calendar!

  • ygladney
    November 15, 2014

    Wow. This is fascinating and sucked me right in as I LOVE San Francisco! What an amazing town. The face paint is well done.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I love the name of your blog. Yes!


    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      November 15, 2014

      San Francisco really is amazing. It took me a bit to fall for the city, but now I love it. The people and the place are so unique. Dod was such a fun experience!

      And thank you! 🙂

  • izzy82
    November 12, 2014

    Great post and awesome photos!! I appreciate the sign that says “eviction is violence.” I was in SF in Sept and my friend who lives in The Mission was explaining the situation, she’s lived there for 9 years and said it’s gotten really intense over the past few years. This as she watched her neighbors who’d lived there for decades have a yard sale as they face eviction. Pretty scary…

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      November 14, 2014

      I thought about not including that photo since it’s not specifically a DoD thing, but it was something I saw during the festival and it’s part of life in SF. I understand that neighborhoods change, but it’s not cool how this is all going down.

  • jessbures
    November 10, 2014

    Hey love, thanks for partying with me this week at Live Randomly Simple! So much great content this week! Hope you make it back this week! Party starts 10pm tonight and runs through Saturday!! Cant wait to see what new goodies you have for us! This looks like so much fun!
    Have a great week

  • Jess @UsedYorkCity
    November 6, 2014

    Oh wow, what a gorgeous festive affair! Quite the way to get into the holiday spirit!:-)

  • Danielle (Bubs on the Move)
    November 5, 2014

    We went to a Mexican festival at the Melbourne Immigration Museum celebrating the Day of the Dead. It was a learning experience for me as I knew little about it. Your shots look amazing – too scary for me to take my kids to though I think!

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      November 21, 2014

      Thank you! I did see more than a few kids there with their parents. They seemed pretty okay. I think some of the adults were more freaked. Haha.

  • taglinedesign
    November 5, 2014

    Your post was almost like being there…but still made me wish I’d gone.

  • Johanna
    November 5, 2014

    I’ve read quite a lot about day of the dead on some American travel blogs I already follow, so this didn’t come as quite such a surprise to me … but your photos are amazing. Even though the day seems a bit kind of ghoulish, I think it’s good to honour those who have passed away, and remember them.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      November 5, 2014

      It truly was beautiful to see the altars people created for their loved ones who’ve passed on. I liked that it was more about celebrating their lives the way they lived rather than mourning their absence.

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