Posted: Friday, Oct 30th, 2020

By Visit Ventura

In Ventura, the Day of the Dead Recalls What Matters

Featured Image by The Museum of Ventura County

This year, Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Ventura will again be a little quieter than normal. But quiet isn’t a bad thing at all — and the full-fledged dancing-in-the-streets festivals and celebrations will return. Perhaps in these current times it is good to remember what Miguel Rivera sings in “Coco”

“For even if I’m far away, I hold you in my heart. I sing a secret song to you, each night we are apart.”

The point is, we should remember those gone from us regardless of the times, and the multi-day holiday of Dia de Los Muertos does precisely that; family and friends gathering to remember friends and family members who have died. Typically Dia de Los Muertos is a time of celebration rather than mourning. Which, when you think of the special people in your life, seems perfectly right.

Image by the Museum of Ventura County

And here in Ventura, there is still opportunity to celebrate and commemorate.

The Bell Arts Factory is hosting two celebrations. On Tuesday, November 2nd, beginning at 5 pm, they will be holding an art exhibit, along with altar offerings and a Dance of the Dead. On Friday, November 5th, beginning at 6 pm, again an art exhibit, and this time, the colorful and graceful sway and song of Ballet Folklorico. For more information, please click here.

Recognizing the importance of the holiday, The Museum of Ventura County (100 East Main Street) will again honor the departed in a variety of ways. From October 24th through October 29th, the Museum invites community members to contribute mementos, photos, drawings, poetry, or other items to be included in the outdoor altars that will be erected at the Museum — and on display from October 30th through November 7th. On Saturday, October 30th, from 2 pm to 4 pm, the Museum will host an afternoon afternoon of music with Xocoyotzin Moraza and friends, poetry, altars, and refreshments for purchase from food trucks Game Over Catering and, appropriately, Desserts to Die For. And, since children are often the keepers of memories, from now through October 31st (for as long as supplies last) the Museum invites families to pick up a free Dia de los Muertos Craft Kit, filled with fun games, coloring sheets, a chance to write a letter to loved ones, and, yep, fun crafts. And if you’ve created an altar at home, and wish to share, the Museum encourages you to submit photos at submissions@venturamuseum.org (the Museum will share these images online. Please use the hashtag #MVCDDLM2021).

Yes, Dia de Los Muertos is filled with colorful costumes, skull-shaped masks (calacas), lovely food (pan de muerto, a sweet egg bread), and lovely traditions like decorating the graves of loved ones with ofrendas (altars). But most important to retain — the underlying premise(s) behind Dia de Los Muertos.

Pixar’s “Coco” was a simple, not so simple film, and like so many simple, not so simple things “Coco” was deft in both touching us and teaching us about the things that matter. Watching Miguel (if you haven’t seen “Coco,” remedy that) adventure through the Land of the Dead, we learn lessons of love, family, and the importance of keeping loved ones forever in our hearts. Valuable lessons that extend far beyond Dia de Los Muertos.

Image by The Museum of Ventura County

As Coco Rivera so wisely points out; “When there’s no one left in the living world who remembers you, you disappear from this world. We call it the Final Death.”

Why would we let that happen?

So in honor of Dia de Los Muertos and those you still love (because we haven’t let them go) take a quiet (or not so quiet, depending on who you are remembering) moment to reflect on how lucky you have been to have your moments with those who still live in your heart.

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