San 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 skulls, wearing 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!”