San Antonio is a unique city for many reasons, but at the beginning of November, the city displays one of it’s truly authentic cultural occasions--the Day of the Dead. The Dia de los Muertos is a Spanish event which celebrates the ancestry of families by communing with those who have passed on. In San Antonio, there are many concerts, art shows, and carnivals around the city which offer a way to experience an event that doesn’t exist in most parts of the country.
On the surface, communing with the deceased may seem like a creepy or macabre event marked by skeletons, skulls, and other ghoulish symbols, but the holiday is actually a cheerful celebration of the lives of the deceased and is meant to praise, rather than to gloomily ponder our existences. Indeed, the event is an artistic celebration as much as anything, marked by singing, parades, costumes, the eating of candy and sweets, and the building of alters. The Day of the Dead can be thought of as Halloween with a purpose. While Halloween is little more than a time for the kids to dress up like the latest cartoon character and ask for candy, the Day of the Dead offers to opportunity to dress up and eat candy too, but at the heart of the event is a bringing together of the family--both alive and dead--in a celebration of this life and the next.
San Antonio supports a strong and varied artistic community, and the Day of the Dead is one of the spectacular and influential times of the year. Galleries, cultural centers, and even restaurants and bars all across town (and throughout Texas) will have displays, showings, poetry readings, and other Dia de los Muertos-inspired events during the celebration. Cemeteries are popular locations to visit, as many people spend the holiday having a picnic at a loved one’s graveside, decorating headstones with flowers, and eating ‘dead bread’, sugar skulls, and other delicacies.
Some of the other celebrations around town include:
Market Square, November 2--Come by to see more than 30 altars created by tenets, schools, and merchants, and with musical performances.
El Sol Studios, November 2, with the exhibits on display throughout the month. Features altars by some of San Antonio’s well-known artists, and also a procession.
Say Si, November 1, exhibits on display throughout the month. Stop by to see folk art, arts and crafts workshops for the entire family, food, live music, dance performances, altars, silent auctions, loterias, and much, much more.
Most events around the city are free, but some do charge admission and require tickets, so be sure to plan ahead and make sure that tickets aren’t required. The Day of the Dead is one of San Antonio’s most interesting and unique celebrations--a bit of Mardi Gras mixed with Halloween. So, get your ‘dead bread’ in the oven, your sugar skulls ready, and your face paint kit out, and get ready for the festivities, San Antonio!