Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

San Diegans celebrate Dia de los Muertos holiday across county

In Old Town San Diego, people came from far and wide Tuesday to experience a large-scale celebration of Dia de los Muertos.

IMG_4997.jpg
Jacob Aere
/
KPBS
A la Catrina skeleton figure is the centerpiece of a large and colorful Día de los Muertos altar in Old Town San Diego, Nov. 1, 2022.

It's a holiday that honors ancestors and loved ones through altars, or “ofrendas" in Spanish.

IMG_5006.jpg
Jacob Aere
/
KPBS
Melissa Rocha wears a ballet folklórico dress and has her face painted for Day of the Dead, Nov. 1, 2022.

For Chula Vista’s Melissa Rocha, she paid tribute to her ancestors through music and dance.

“The outfit is actually ballet folklórico, which is mainly Mexican dance,” Rocha said of her green, white and red dress. “And the face painting is definitely for Dia de los Muertos.”

IMG_4968.jpg
Jacob Aere
/
KPBS
A series of names are written in chalk on the brick wall outside of a graveyard, adorned in decorations for Día de los Muertos, Nov. 1, 2022.

The holiday features lots of marigolds, pictures of family members, painted skulls and skeletons to honor the dead.

IMG_4948.jpg
Jacob Aere
/
KPBS
An altar is decorated with photos of people, marigolds, papel picado and skeletons, Nov.1, 2022.

Dia de los Muertos traces its earliest roots to the Aztec people and it’s officially celebrated on Nov. 1 and 2.

IMG_4938.jpg
Jacob Aere
/
KPBS
A quintet of Día de los Muertos mariachi stand above a store in Old Town San Diego, Nov. 1, 2022.

Dania Vargas and her mother drove all the way from Escondido to see the Old Town altars in-person.

“Even though we embrace it at home, it's nice to have a place where we can come gather and embrace those traditions — those Mexican traditions for us,” Vargas said. “It means we are closer to our loved ones.”

IMG_5003.jpg
Jacob Aere
/
KPBS
People gather in front of a large, colorful Día de los Muertos altar and stage in Old Town San Diego, Nov. 1, 2022.

Whether in San Diego, or across the border in Mexico, many people celebrate in a similar way, according to Monique Oviedo.

“It's like taking a piece from where you were from, and bringing it here to where you now live,” she said.

IMG_4963.jpg
Jacob Aere
/
KPBS
Graves in Old Town San Diego are adorned with decorations for Día de Los Muertos, Nov.1, 2022.

Oviedo works at her mother's business — Amore Leather — in Old Town. She said the main focus of the holiday is on family.

“It means a lot to me because we get to remember the people who are closest to us. And it's nice to see other people learn about our culture, respectfully, and that feels really good,” Oviedo said.

IMG_4948.jpg
Jacob Aere
/
KPBS
People gather outside of the Fiesta de Reyes plaza in Old Town San Diego, Nov. 1, 2022.

While many families celebrate the holiday at home, public Dia de los Muertos celebrations continue in Old Town Wednesday with other events scheduled around the county.

IMG_4961.jpg
Jacob Aere
/
KPBS
Two la Catrina skeletons stand outside of a business in Old Town San Diego, Nov. 1, 2022.

San Diegans celebrate Dia de los Muertos holiday across county

I report on City Heights and communities south of the Interstate 8 freeway. My beat covers housing, transportation, census and immigration policy, and a number of other issues important to these neighborhoods. No matter the topic, I seek the overlooked voices of these diverse communities to tell their stories.
What are issues affecting San Diego's most vulnerable?

Explore all national, state and local returns now.