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Día de los Muertos and 8 Other Festivals of the Dead Around the World Slideshow

Día de los Muertos and 8 Other Festivals of the Dead Around the World Slideshow

See how different parts of the world honor their dead

Halloween in America means cleverly carved jack-o’-lanterns on front steps (and on Instagram), costumes inspired by the latest pop culture craze, crews of children in elaborate costumes running from door to door with bags of goodies, and motion-sensing decorations that scream or cackle whenever someone unwittingly comes near. But it wasn’t always this way. Halloween most likely evolved from the ancient Celtic festival Samhain, in which people dressed in costumes and lit bonfires to keep the spirits at bay. Christians did a good job of appropriating pre-Christian holidays and rituals, and after Pope Gregory III declared November 1 All Saints’ Day in the eighth century, the evening before became known as All Hallows’ Eve. That grew into Halloween.

Despite all the talk of ghosts and spirits on October 31, most Americans would sooner spend the holiday dressing up and retelling ghost stories than remembering loved ones who have passed on. In many other parts of the world, however, festivals of the dead are centered around deceased family members, and families focus on extensive preparations for the return of the spirits of their ancestors.

In honor of Halloween, read on to learn about nine festivals around the world that honor the dead.

Día de los Muertos and 8 Other Festivals of the Dead Around the World

Halloween in America means cleverly carved jack-o’-lanterns on front steps (and on Instagram), costumes inspired by the latest pop culture craze, crews of children in elaborate costumes running from door to door with bags of goodies, and motion-sensing decorations that scream or cackle whenever someone unwittingly comes near. In many other parts of the world, however, festivals of the dead are centered around deceased family members, and families focus on extensive preparations for the return of the spirits of their ancestors.

In honor of Halloween, read on to learn about nine festivals around the world that honor the dead.

All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day

All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are Catholic holidays celebrated on the first and second day after Halloween, respectively. The two holidays are popular in parts of Germany and other countries with Catholic histories. Honoring unknown martyrs and saints is the purpose of All Saints’ Day, while All Souls’ Day usually consists of attending church services and honoring deceased family members by visiting their graves. The latter day’s purpose is to honor and pray for souls in Purgatory.

Chuseok

This three-day Korean holiday and festival is meant to thank ancestors for a prolific harvest. It’s held on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar; this year, it started in late September. The festival features celebration, dancing, memorial services, and paying respects to dead relatives and cleaning their tombs. Another custom is preparing a songpyeon, or special rice cake, which is traditionally left out for ancestors who have passed on.

Día de los Muertos

This name of this three-day Latin American festival, which begins on October 31, is Spanish for Day of the Dead. Families invite beloved relatives who have passed away to return home for a visit, and altars are prepared in the home with photos, decorations, and the deceased person’s favorite foods and drinks. Flowers on the altar symbolize life’s brevity. Candles are also lit to help the dead find their way home. Elaborately artistic skulls and skeletons, usually depicting the deceased in some kind of professional garb (musician, cook, fireman, priest), made out of everything from marzipan to hammered tin, are everywhere.

Famadihana

During winter in the highlands of Madagascar, people join in exhumation ceremonies called Famadihana. The Malagasy believe that spirits can’t complete the journey to the land of their ancestors until their bodies are entirely decomposed. Every seven years, families gather at the clan’s tomb, and ancestors in burial cloths are passed around as people dance. Next, the body is affectionately rewrapped in special scarves. Families take photos with the deceased or sit with them and think before returning them to their resting place for another seven years – unless there is a time of crisis, in which the ceremony is repeated. The ritual continues to occur until the body has decomposed.

Gai Jatra

This eight-day Nepalese festival, celebrated in August and September, is also known as the Festival of the Cows. Cows are highly revered by many Hindu sects and thought to aid in a deceased person’s journey to the afterlife. If a family has lost a beloved relative in the past year, they will lead a cow through town. If no cow is available, a child dressed as a cow is sufficient for the tradition. Kathmandu is a good city in which to witness the festival, as it is mainly celebrated by the Newar community of the Kathmandu valley.

Hungry Ghost Festival

Photo Modified: Wikimedia Commons / Sampuna

Buddhist and Tao customs call for a month in which to honor ancestors, and the resultant Hungry Ghost Festival is usually celebrated in the summer in China, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore. In China, the seventh month of the Chinese lunisolar calendar is regarded as the Ghost Month. The Ghost Festival itself is held on the 15th night of this month (or the 14th, as is the case in the southern part of the country.) On the day of the festival, the line between the world of the living and the dead is said to be most blurred, allowing spirits to pass freely from the lower realm into the land of the living. Families feed hungry spirits with food on altars and make paper offerings to them (paper money, watches, even full-size cars, and more) by burning them in a metal bin. After the festival, people often light flower-shaped water lanterns and float them on the rivers to guide spirits back to the world of the dead.

Obon Festival

Photo Modified: Wikimedia Commons / Stefan Kühn

Each summer in Japan, spirits are believed to return to visit their relatives. The exact date of the resulting celebration, the Bon or Obon Festival, depends on the region, as different Japanese regions adapted differently to the change from lunar calendar to Gregorian calendar in the late 19th century. In eastern Japan, Shichigatsu Bon, or Obon in July, is celebrated around July 15th in accordance with the solar calendar. Kyu Bon, or Old Obon, differs in timing every year as it is celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar in parts of southern Japan. The most commonly celebrated Obon is Hachigatsu Bon, or Obon in August, celebrated around August 15th in accordance with the lunar calendar. Regardless of start date, the celebrations last for three days. Buddhists hang lit paper lanterns in front of their homes to guide their ancestors’ spirits and prepare altars with special food for them. In Kyoto, the dead are often welcomed through the bon-odori, a traditional dance, and huge bonfires at the perimeter of the city presumably guide spirits back to the land of the dead. People usually return home to spend this holiday amongst their loved ones.

Pchum Ben

This 15-day religious holiday is celebrated throughout Cambodia. Sprits of deceased relatives are thought to come in search of their living loved ones to atone for sins they committed during their lifetimes. Cambodians bring food to pagodas, where Buddhist monks then offer it to the souls of the dead.

Pitru Paksha

Pitru Paksha is another Hindu festival celebrated in India, a 16-day celebration held sometime between September and October. Priests participate in daily rituals and families make food offerings to the deceased, which are said to result in blessings of salvation, health, and wealth from ancestors, as well as salvation for the ancestors themselves. If you don't have the time or funds for last-minute travel to one of these festivals this year, that's alright. Check out these eight winter ice festivals that you can try to grab a ticket to next season.


Día de los Muertos' appropriation is on global scale, and S.A., too

This altar for Emma Tenayuca was created by artist Regina Moya for the annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Pearl on Friday, November 2, 2018. Emma Tenayuca was a Mexican-American labor leader, union organizer and educator. She is best known for her work organizing Mexican workers in Texas during the 1930s.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

Young singers from the San Antonio Mariachi Academy perform onstage during the annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Pearl on Friday, November 2, 2018.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

The altar of the Isabel and Enrique Sanchez family features pictures of their deceased family members at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center's annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration on November 1, 2018. Center is pictured Enrique's great grandfather. Isabel is 95, her husband Enrique is 90.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

Día de los Muertos Celebration: In its seventh year, this Día de los Muertos fiesta has moved to Hemisfair but includes the same time-honored festivities and customs, including ofrendas, cultural workshops, a procession of the dead, art vendors, live music and poetry. Free. Saturday and Sunday. Hemisfair, 434 S. Alamo St., muertosfest.com.

Who owns Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead? Whose celebration of it is most authentic? Which events are most worthy of public support, and who gets to profit from it all?

As San Antonio prepares for several new public celebrations of that Mexican and Latin American spiritual and cultural holiday, these landmine questions are floating above the large-scale calaveras expected to pop up around downtown soon and the colorful trajineras that will float on the San Antonio River.

One issue is certain, a holiday meant to honor and remember los antepasados is already on steroids. Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and throughout the Americas, as it is in London and Paris, in San Antonio homes and by Latino and non-Latino arts organizations starting around the fourth weekend in October through the official days of Nov. 1-3.

To get an idea of how much the holiday has grown and been appropriated, both the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and the Austin-based head shop Planet K are holding events.

How you answer any of the questions above remains as touchy as ever, not just because of the issue of cultural appropriation and the nature of the holidays &mdash which often get confused with Halloween or misread as somehow sinister &mdash but because government funding to arts and cultural organizations can set off all sorts of drama.

The city&rsquos long history of inequity in arts funding doesn&rsquot help, as some grass-roots organizations have long battled for city recognition and funding. They already have reasons to be miffed. Then there&rsquos always the gripe about new events competing with established ones.

Visit San Antonio is embracing Day of the Dead to increase tourism &mdash ultimately to make San Antonio a U.S. Day of the Dead destination. But it&rsquos rubbing some people the wrong way, too, though the reality is that Mexicans are the city&rsquos No. 1 tourism population, by far.

The marketing of Day of the Dead can be controversial &mdash Still, let&rsquos face it, Day of the Dead merchandise is often made in China these days.

It&rsquos confounding that so many business interests have taken advantage of a tradition once celebrated in a Mexican American religious context, because Día de los Muertos falls on two Catholic feast days, All Saints Day Nov. 1 and All Souls Day Nov. 2.

At one time, Day of the Dead was a home-centered activity, predominantly on the city&rsquos West and South Sides, and most visible in altars, or ofrendas. My Aunt Emma&rsquos altar was a year-round presence with a giant portrait of the Virgen de Guadalupe above a small table. Candles kept the memories of those who went before us alive.

Like so many other Mexican and Mexican American families, we visited and decorated the graves of our loved ones. As a girl, I didn&rsquot yet know that we were participating in ancient, indigenous rituals in which we invite our ancestors back from the underworld for brief visits, setting out their favorite foods and beverages alongside marigolds, or cempasúchil, whose fragrance guides their journeys home.

San Fernando Cemetery No. 2 on Castroville Road becomes a sea of marigolds this time of year.

More than 40 years ago, it was Centro Cultural Aztlán and longtime artist Ramón Vásquez y Sánchez who first encouraged making outdoor ofrendas for public view. That spurred a tradition that has spread 100-fold.

We&rsquove all reclaimed Día de los Muertos.

Over the last six months or so, a local Mexican-born marketing executive came to local officials with a project to produce a new Day of the Dead event at La Villita. Javier Ruiz Galindo, who has lived in the San Antonio area for 30 years, hasn&rsquot been widely known because his large-scale commercial productions for World Cup soccer and Formula One racing have been global, not local.

His firm Vida San Antonio is producing several events, including a river parade that, if successful, will be a marvel to watch. He wouldn&rsquot disclose his budget, but he&rsquos getting about $200,000 from Visit San Antonio. He&rsquos promising Mexican media coverage that he&rsquos likely to deliver.

&ldquoDespierta América,&rdquo &ldquoEl Gordo y la Flaca,&rdquo &ldquoPrimer Impacto&rdquo and Univision&rsquos &ldquoNoticiero&rdquo are all among the major TV shows that will broadcast from San Antonio this year. Visit San Antonio says that kind of airtime is valued at between $7 million and $9 million.

The new event has a lot of moving parts. The Rey Feo Consejo Educational Foundation will benefit from the new Catrinas on the River Parade. La Villita also will feature art, food and music, along with a Danza de las Mojigangas that will bring a new feature to the city&rsquos Day of the Dead landscape.

Chef Johnny Hernandez has been working on the project for six months, too. His contract to develop three restaurants in Maverick Plaza includes developing programming there. He&rsquoll likely spend a $50,000 pot allotted to him for that programming solely on the Day of the Dead event. It will be reimbursed from the Inner City Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone.

A huge cross-section of arts groups and entrepreneurs will host other Day of the Dead events, many of them decades older. Get why they&rsquore upset? But that&rsquos another column.


Día de los Muertos' appropriation is on global scale, and S.A., too

This altar for Emma Tenayuca was created by artist Regina Moya for the annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Pearl on Friday, November 2, 2018. Emma Tenayuca was a Mexican-American labor leader, union organizer and educator. She is best known for her work organizing Mexican workers in Texas during the 1930s.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

Young singers from the San Antonio Mariachi Academy perform onstage during the annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Pearl on Friday, November 2, 2018.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

The altar of the Isabel and Enrique Sanchez family features pictures of their deceased family members at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center's annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration on November 1, 2018. Center is pictured Enrique's great grandfather. Isabel is 95, her husband Enrique is 90.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

Día de los Muertos Celebration: In its seventh year, this Día de los Muertos fiesta has moved to Hemisfair but includes the same time-honored festivities and customs, including ofrendas, cultural workshops, a procession of the dead, art vendors, live music and poetry. Free. Saturday and Sunday. Hemisfair, 434 S. Alamo St., muertosfest.com.

Who owns Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead? Whose celebration of it is most authentic? Which events are most worthy of public support, and who gets to profit from it all?

As San Antonio prepares for several new public celebrations of that Mexican and Latin American spiritual and cultural holiday, these landmine questions are floating above the large-scale calaveras expected to pop up around downtown soon and the colorful trajineras that will float on the San Antonio River.

One issue is certain, a holiday meant to honor and remember los antepasados is already on steroids. Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and throughout the Americas, as it is in London and Paris, in San Antonio homes and by Latino and non-Latino arts organizations starting around the fourth weekend in October through the official days of Nov. 1-3.

To get an idea of how much the holiday has grown and been appropriated, both the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and the Austin-based head shop Planet K are holding events.

How you answer any of the questions above remains as touchy as ever, not just because of the issue of cultural appropriation and the nature of the holidays &mdash which often get confused with Halloween or misread as somehow sinister &mdash but because government funding to arts and cultural organizations can set off all sorts of drama.

The city&rsquos long history of inequity in arts funding doesn&rsquot help, as some grass-roots organizations have long battled for city recognition and funding. They already have reasons to be miffed. Then there&rsquos always the gripe about new events competing with established ones.

Visit San Antonio is embracing Day of the Dead to increase tourism &mdash ultimately to make San Antonio a U.S. Day of the Dead destination. But it&rsquos rubbing some people the wrong way, too, though the reality is that Mexicans are the city&rsquos No. 1 tourism population, by far.

The marketing of Day of the Dead can be controversial &mdash Still, let&rsquos face it, Day of the Dead merchandise is often made in China these days.

It&rsquos confounding that so many business interests have taken advantage of a tradition once celebrated in a Mexican American religious context, because Día de los Muertos falls on two Catholic feast days, All Saints Day Nov. 1 and All Souls Day Nov. 2.

At one time, Day of the Dead was a home-centered activity, predominantly on the city&rsquos West and South Sides, and most visible in altars, or ofrendas. My Aunt Emma&rsquos altar was a year-round presence with a giant portrait of the Virgen de Guadalupe above a small table. Candles kept the memories of those who went before us alive.

Like so many other Mexican and Mexican American families, we visited and decorated the graves of our loved ones. As a girl, I didn&rsquot yet know that we were participating in ancient, indigenous rituals in which we invite our ancestors back from the underworld for brief visits, setting out their favorite foods and beverages alongside marigolds, or cempasúchil, whose fragrance guides their journeys home.

San Fernando Cemetery No. 2 on Castroville Road becomes a sea of marigolds this time of year.

More than 40 years ago, it was Centro Cultural Aztlán and longtime artist Ramón Vásquez y Sánchez who first encouraged making outdoor ofrendas for public view. That spurred a tradition that has spread 100-fold.

We&rsquove all reclaimed Día de los Muertos.

Over the last six months or so, a local Mexican-born marketing executive came to local officials with a project to produce a new Day of the Dead event at La Villita. Javier Ruiz Galindo, who has lived in the San Antonio area for 30 years, hasn&rsquot been widely known because his large-scale commercial productions for World Cup soccer and Formula One racing have been global, not local.

His firm Vida San Antonio is producing several events, including a river parade that, if successful, will be a marvel to watch. He wouldn&rsquot disclose his budget, but he&rsquos getting about $200,000 from Visit San Antonio. He&rsquos promising Mexican media coverage that he&rsquos likely to deliver.

&ldquoDespierta América,&rdquo &ldquoEl Gordo y la Flaca,&rdquo &ldquoPrimer Impacto&rdquo and Univision&rsquos &ldquoNoticiero&rdquo are all among the major TV shows that will broadcast from San Antonio this year. Visit San Antonio says that kind of airtime is valued at between $7 million and $9 million.

The new event has a lot of moving parts. The Rey Feo Consejo Educational Foundation will benefit from the new Catrinas on the River Parade. La Villita also will feature art, food and music, along with a Danza de las Mojigangas that will bring a new feature to the city&rsquos Day of the Dead landscape.

Chef Johnny Hernandez has been working on the project for six months, too. His contract to develop three restaurants in Maverick Plaza includes developing programming there. He&rsquoll likely spend a $50,000 pot allotted to him for that programming solely on the Day of the Dead event. It will be reimbursed from the Inner City Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone.

A huge cross-section of arts groups and entrepreneurs will host other Day of the Dead events, many of them decades older. Get why they&rsquore upset? But that&rsquos another column.


Día de los Muertos' appropriation is on global scale, and S.A., too

This altar for Emma Tenayuca was created by artist Regina Moya for the annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Pearl on Friday, November 2, 2018. Emma Tenayuca was a Mexican-American labor leader, union organizer and educator. She is best known for her work organizing Mexican workers in Texas during the 1930s.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

Young singers from the San Antonio Mariachi Academy perform onstage during the annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Pearl on Friday, November 2, 2018.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

The altar of the Isabel and Enrique Sanchez family features pictures of their deceased family members at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center's annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration on November 1, 2018. Center is pictured Enrique's great grandfather. Isabel is 95, her husband Enrique is 90.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

Día de los Muertos Celebration: In its seventh year, this Día de los Muertos fiesta has moved to Hemisfair but includes the same time-honored festivities and customs, including ofrendas, cultural workshops, a procession of the dead, art vendors, live music and poetry. Free. Saturday and Sunday. Hemisfair, 434 S. Alamo St., muertosfest.com.

Who owns Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead? Whose celebration of it is most authentic? Which events are most worthy of public support, and who gets to profit from it all?

As San Antonio prepares for several new public celebrations of that Mexican and Latin American spiritual and cultural holiday, these landmine questions are floating above the large-scale calaveras expected to pop up around downtown soon and the colorful trajineras that will float on the San Antonio River.

One issue is certain, a holiday meant to honor and remember los antepasados is already on steroids. Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and throughout the Americas, as it is in London and Paris, in San Antonio homes and by Latino and non-Latino arts organizations starting around the fourth weekend in October through the official days of Nov. 1-3.

To get an idea of how much the holiday has grown and been appropriated, both the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and the Austin-based head shop Planet K are holding events.

How you answer any of the questions above remains as touchy as ever, not just because of the issue of cultural appropriation and the nature of the holidays &mdash which often get confused with Halloween or misread as somehow sinister &mdash but because government funding to arts and cultural organizations can set off all sorts of drama.

The city&rsquos long history of inequity in arts funding doesn&rsquot help, as some grass-roots organizations have long battled for city recognition and funding. They already have reasons to be miffed. Then there&rsquos always the gripe about new events competing with established ones.

Visit San Antonio is embracing Day of the Dead to increase tourism &mdash ultimately to make San Antonio a U.S. Day of the Dead destination. But it&rsquos rubbing some people the wrong way, too, though the reality is that Mexicans are the city&rsquos No. 1 tourism population, by far.

The marketing of Day of the Dead can be controversial &mdash Still, let&rsquos face it, Day of the Dead merchandise is often made in China these days.

It&rsquos confounding that so many business interests have taken advantage of a tradition once celebrated in a Mexican American religious context, because Día de los Muertos falls on two Catholic feast days, All Saints Day Nov. 1 and All Souls Day Nov. 2.

At one time, Day of the Dead was a home-centered activity, predominantly on the city&rsquos West and South Sides, and most visible in altars, or ofrendas. My Aunt Emma&rsquos altar was a year-round presence with a giant portrait of the Virgen de Guadalupe above a small table. Candles kept the memories of those who went before us alive.

Like so many other Mexican and Mexican American families, we visited and decorated the graves of our loved ones. As a girl, I didn&rsquot yet know that we were participating in ancient, indigenous rituals in which we invite our ancestors back from the underworld for brief visits, setting out their favorite foods and beverages alongside marigolds, or cempasúchil, whose fragrance guides their journeys home.

San Fernando Cemetery No. 2 on Castroville Road becomes a sea of marigolds this time of year.

More than 40 years ago, it was Centro Cultural Aztlán and longtime artist Ramón Vásquez y Sánchez who first encouraged making outdoor ofrendas for public view. That spurred a tradition that has spread 100-fold.

We&rsquove all reclaimed Día de los Muertos.

Over the last six months or so, a local Mexican-born marketing executive came to local officials with a project to produce a new Day of the Dead event at La Villita. Javier Ruiz Galindo, who has lived in the San Antonio area for 30 years, hasn&rsquot been widely known because his large-scale commercial productions for World Cup soccer and Formula One racing have been global, not local.

His firm Vida San Antonio is producing several events, including a river parade that, if successful, will be a marvel to watch. He wouldn&rsquot disclose his budget, but he&rsquos getting about $200,000 from Visit San Antonio. He&rsquos promising Mexican media coverage that he&rsquos likely to deliver.

&ldquoDespierta América,&rdquo &ldquoEl Gordo y la Flaca,&rdquo &ldquoPrimer Impacto&rdquo and Univision&rsquos &ldquoNoticiero&rdquo are all among the major TV shows that will broadcast from San Antonio this year. Visit San Antonio says that kind of airtime is valued at between $7 million and $9 million.

The new event has a lot of moving parts. The Rey Feo Consejo Educational Foundation will benefit from the new Catrinas on the River Parade. La Villita also will feature art, food and music, along with a Danza de las Mojigangas that will bring a new feature to the city&rsquos Day of the Dead landscape.

Chef Johnny Hernandez has been working on the project for six months, too. His contract to develop three restaurants in Maverick Plaza includes developing programming there. He&rsquoll likely spend a $50,000 pot allotted to him for that programming solely on the Day of the Dead event. It will be reimbursed from the Inner City Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone.

A huge cross-section of arts groups and entrepreneurs will host other Day of the Dead events, many of them decades older. Get why they&rsquore upset? But that&rsquos another column.


Día de los Muertos' appropriation is on global scale, and S.A., too

This altar for Emma Tenayuca was created by artist Regina Moya for the annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Pearl on Friday, November 2, 2018. Emma Tenayuca was a Mexican-American labor leader, union organizer and educator. She is best known for her work organizing Mexican workers in Texas during the 1930s.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

Young singers from the San Antonio Mariachi Academy perform onstage during the annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Pearl on Friday, November 2, 2018.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

The altar of the Isabel and Enrique Sanchez family features pictures of their deceased family members at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center's annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration on November 1, 2018. Center is pictured Enrique's great grandfather. Isabel is 95, her husband Enrique is 90.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

Día de los Muertos Celebration: In its seventh year, this Día de los Muertos fiesta has moved to Hemisfair but includes the same time-honored festivities and customs, including ofrendas, cultural workshops, a procession of the dead, art vendors, live music and poetry. Free. Saturday and Sunday. Hemisfair, 434 S. Alamo St., muertosfest.com.

Who owns Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead? Whose celebration of it is most authentic? Which events are most worthy of public support, and who gets to profit from it all?

As San Antonio prepares for several new public celebrations of that Mexican and Latin American spiritual and cultural holiday, these landmine questions are floating above the large-scale calaveras expected to pop up around downtown soon and the colorful trajineras that will float on the San Antonio River.

One issue is certain, a holiday meant to honor and remember los antepasados is already on steroids. Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and throughout the Americas, as it is in London and Paris, in San Antonio homes and by Latino and non-Latino arts organizations starting around the fourth weekend in October through the official days of Nov. 1-3.

To get an idea of how much the holiday has grown and been appropriated, both the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and the Austin-based head shop Planet K are holding events.

How you answer any of the questions above remains as touchy as ever, not just because of the issue of cultural appropriation and the nature of the holidays &mdash which often get confused with Halloween or misread as somehow sinister &mdash but because government funding to arts and cultural organizations can set off all sorts of drama.

The city&rsquos long history of inequity in arts funding doesn&rsquot help, as some grass-roots organizations have long battled for city recognition and funding. They already have reasons to be miffed. Then there&rsquos always the gripe about new events competing with established ones.

Visit San Antonio is embracing Day of the Dead to increase tourism &mdash ultimately to make San Antonio a U.S. Day of the Dead destination. But it&rsquos rubbing some people the wrong way, too, though the reality is that Mexicans are the city&rsquos No. 1 tourism population, by far.

The marketing of Day of the Dead can be controversial &mdash Still, let&rsquos face it, Day of the Dead merchandise is often made in China these days.

It&rsquos confounding that so many business interests have taken advantage of a tradition once celebrated in a Mexican American religious context, because Día de los Muertos falls on two Catholic feast days, All Saints Day Nov. 1 and All Souls Day Nov. 2.

At one time, Day of the Dead was a home-centered activity, predominantly on the city&rsquos West and South Sides, and most visible in altars, or ofrendas. My Aunt Emma&rsquos altar was a year-round presence with a giant portrait of the Virgen de Guadalupe above a small table. Candles kept the memories of those who went before us alive.

Like so many other Mexican and Mexican American families, we visited and decorated the graves of our loved ones. As a girl, I didn&rsquot yet know that we were participating in ancient, indigenous rituals in which we invite our ancestors back from the underworld for brief visits, setting out their favorite foods and beverages alongside marigolds, or cempasúchil, whose fragrance guides their journeys home.

San Fernando Cemetery No. 2 on Castroville Road becomes a sea of marigolds this time of year.

More than 40 years ago, it was Centro Cultural Aztlán and longtime artist Ramón Vásquez y Sánchez who first encouraged making outdoor ofrendas for public view. That spurred a tradition that has spread 100-fold.

We&rsquove all reclaimed Día de los Muertos.

Over the last six months or so, a local Mexican-born marketing executive came to local officials with a project to produce a new Day of the Dead event at La Villita. Javier Ruiz Galindo, who has lived in the San Antonio area for 30 years, hasn&rsquot been widely known because his large-scale commercial productions for World Cup soccer and Formula One racing have been global, not local.

His firm Vida San Antonio is producing several events, including a river parade that, if successful, will be a marvel to watch. He wouldn&rsquot disclose his budget, but he&rsquos getting about $200,000 from Visit San Antonio. He&rsquos promising Mexican media coverage that he&rsquos likely to deliver.

&ldquoDespierta América,&rdquo &ldquoEl Gordo y la Flaca,&rdquo &ldquoPrimer Impacto&rdquo and Univision&rsquos &ldquoNoticiero&rdquo are all among the major TV shows that will broadcast from San Antonio this year. Visit San Antonio says that kind of airtime is valued at between $7 million and $9 million.

The new event has a lot of moving parts. The Rey Feo Consejo Educational Foundation will benefit from the new Catrinas on the River Parade. La Villita also will feature art, food and music, along with a Danza de las Mojigangas that will bring a new feature to the city&rsquos Day of the Dead landscape.

Chef Johnny Hernandez has been working on the project for six months, too. His contract to develop three restaurants in Maverick Plaza includes developing programming there. He&rsquoll likely spend a $50,000 pot allotted to him for that programming solely on the Day of the Dead event. It will be reimbursed from the Inner City Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone.

A huge cross-section of arts groups and entrepreneurs will host other Day of the Dead events, many of them decades older. Get why they&rsquore upset? But that&rsquos another column.


Día de los Muertos' appropriation is on global scale, and S.A., too

This altar for Emma Tenayuca was created by artist Regina Moya for the annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Pearl on Friday, November 2, 2018. Emma Tenayuca was a Mexican-American labor leader, union organizer and educator. She is best known for her work organizing Mexican workers in Texas during the 1930s.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

Young singers from the San Antonio Mariachi Academy perform onstage during the annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Pearl on Friday, November 2, 2018.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

The altar of the Isabel and Enrique Sanchez family features pictures of their deceased family members at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center's annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration on November 1, 2018. Center is pictured Enrique's great grandfather. Isabel is 95, her husband Enrique is 90.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

Día de los Muertos Celebration: In its seventh year, this Día de los Muertos fiesta has moved to Hemisfair but includes the same time-honored festivities and customs, including ofrendas, cultural workshops, a procession of the dead, art vendors, live music and poetry. Free. Saturday and Sunday. Hemisfair, 434 S. Alamo St., muertosfest.com.

Who owns Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead? Whose celebration of it is most authentic? Which events are most worthy of public support, and who gets to profit from it all?

As San Antonio prepares for several new public celebrations of that Mexican and Latin American spiritual and cultural holiday, these landmine questions are floating above the large-scale calaveras expected to pop up around downtown soon and the colorful trajineras that will float on the San Antonio River.

One issue is certain, a holiday meant to honor and remember los antepasados is already on steroids. Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and throughout the Americas, as it is in London and Paris, in San Antonio homes and by Latino and non-Latino arts organizations starting around the fourth weekend in October through the official days of Nov. 1-3.

To get an idea of how much the holiday has grown and been appropriated, both the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and the Austin-based head shop Planet K are holding events.

How you answer any of the questions above remains as touchy as ever, not just because of the issue of cultural appropriation and the nature of the holidays &mdash which often get confused with Halloween or misread as somehow sinister &mdash but because government funding to arts and cultural organizations can set off all sorts of drama.

The city&rsquos long history of inequity in arts funding doesn&rsquot help, as some grass-roots organizations have long battled for city recognition and funding. They already have reasons to be miffed. Then there&rsquos always the gripe about new events competing with established ones.

Visit San Antonio is embracing Day of the Dead to increase tourism &mdash ultimately to make San Antonio a U.S. Day of the Dead destination. But it&rsquos rubbing some people the wrong way, too, though the reality is that Mexicans are the city&rsquos No. 1 tourism population, by far.

The marketing of Day of the Dead can be controversial &mdash Still, let&rsquos face it, Day of the Dead merchandise is often made in China these days.

It&rsquos confounding that so many business interests have taken advantage of a tradition once celebrated in a Mexican American religious context, because Día de los Muertos falls on two Catholic feast days, All Saints Day Nov. 1 and All Souls Day Nov. 2.

At one time, Day of the Dead was a home-centered activity, predominantly on the city&rsquos West and South Sides, and most visible in altars, or ofrendas. My Aunt Emma&rsquos altar was a year-round presence with a giant portrait of the Virgen de Guadalupe above a small table. Candles kept the memories of those who went before us alive.

Like so many other Mexican and Mexican American families, we visited and decorated the graves of our loved ones. As a girl, I didn&rsquot yet know that we were participating in ancient, indigenous rituals in which we invite our ancestors back from the underworld for brief visits, setting out their favorite foods and beverages alongside marigolds, or cempasúchil, whose fragrance guides their journeys home.

San Fernando Cemetery No. 2 on Castroville Road becomes a sea of marigolds this time of year.

More than 40 years ago, it was Centro Cultural Aztlán and longtime artist Ramón Vásquez y Sánchez who first encouraged making outdoor ofrendas for public view. That spurred a tradition that has spread 100-fold.

We&rsquove all reclaimed Día de los Muertos.

Over the last six months or so, a local Mexican-born marketing executive came to local officials with a project to produce a new Day of the Dead event at La Villita. Javier Ruiz Galindo, who has lived in the San Antonio area for 30 years, hasn&rsquot been widely known because his large-scale commercial productions for World Cup soccer and Formula One racing have been global, not local.

His firm Vida San Antonio is producing several events, including a river parade that, if successful, will be a marvel to watch. He wouldn&rsquot disclose his budget, but he&rsquos getting about $200,000 from Visit San Antonio. He&rsquos promising Mexican media coverage that he&rsquos likely to deliver.

&ldquoDespierta América,&rdquo &ldquoEl Gordo y la Flaca,&rdquo &ldquoPrimer Impacto&rdquo and Univision&rsquos &ldquoNoticiero&rdquo are all among the major TV shows that will broadcast from San Antonio this year. Visit San Antonio says that kind of airtime is valued at between $7 million and $9 million.

The new event has a lot of moving parts. The Rey Feo Consejo Educational Foundation will benefit from the new Catrinas on the River Parade. La Villita also will feature art, food and music, along with a Danza de las Mojigangas that will bring a new feature to the city&rsquos Day of the Dead landscape.

Chef Johnny Hernandez has been working on the project for six months, too. His contract to develop three restaurants in Maverick Plaza includes developing programming there. He&rsquoll likely spend a $50,000 pot allotted to him for that programming solely on the Day of the Dead event. It will be reimbursed from the Inner City Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone.

A huge cross-section of arts groups and entrepreneurs will host other Day of the Dead events, many of them decades older. Get why they&rsquore upset? But that&rsquos another column.


Día de los Muertos' appropriation is on global scale, and S.A., too

This altar for Emma Tenayuca was created by artist Regina Moya for the annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Pearl on Friday, November 2, 2018. Emma Tenayuca was a Mexican-American labor leader, union organizer and educator. She is best known for her work organizing Mexican workers in Texas during the 1930s.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

Young singers from the San Antonio Mariachi Academy perform onstage during the annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Pearl on Friday, November 2, 2018.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

The altar of the Isabel and Enrique Sanchez family features pictures of their deceased family members at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center's annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration on November 1, 2018. Center is pictured Enrique's great grandfather. Isabel is 95, her husband Enrique is 90.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

Día de los Muertos Celebration: In its seventh year, this Día de los Muertos fiesta has moved to Hemisfair but includes the same time-honored festivities and customs, including ofrendas, cultural workshops, a procession of the dead, art vendors, live music and poetry. Free. Saturday and Sunday. Hemisfair, 434 S. Alamo St., muertosfest.com.

Who owns Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead? Whose celebration of it is most authentic? Which events are most worthy of public support, and who gets to profit from it all?

As San Antonio prepares for several new public celebrations of that Mexican and Latin American spiritual and cultural holiday, these landmine questions are floating above the large-scale calaveras expected to pop up around downtown soon and the colorful trajineras that will float on the San Antonio River.

One issue is certain, a holiday meant to honor and remember los antepasados is already on steroids. Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and throughout the Americas, as it is in London and Paris, in San Antonio homes and by Latino and non-Latino arts organizations starting around the fourth weekend in October through the official days of Nov. 1-3.

To get an idea of how much the holiday has grown and been appropriated, both the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and the Austin-based head shop Planet K are holding events.

How you answer any of the questions above remains as touchy as ever, not just because of the issue of cultural appropriation and the nature of the holidays &mdash which often get confused with Halloween or misread as somehow sinister &mdash but because government funding to arts and cultural organizations can set off all sorts of drama.

The city&rsquos long history of inequity in arts funding doesn&rsquot help, as some grass-roots organizations have long battled for city recognition and funding. They already have reasons to be miffed. Then there&rsquos always the gripe about new events competing with established ones.

Visit San Antonio is embracing Day of the Dead to increase tourism &mdash ultimately to make San Antonio a U.S. Day of the Dead destination. But it&rsquos rubbing some people the wrong way, too, though the reality is that Mexicans are the city&rsquos No. 1 tourism population, by far.

The marketing of Day of the Dead can be controversial &mdash Still, let&rsquos face it, Day of the Dead merchandise is often made in China these days.

It&rsquos confounding that so many business interests have taken advantage of a tradition once celebrated in a Mexican American religious context, because Día de los Muertos falls on two Catholic feast days, All Saints Day Nov. 1 and All Souls Day Nov. 2.

At one time, Day of the Dead was a home-centered activity, predominantly on the city&rsquos West and South Sides, and most visible in altars, or ofrendas. My Aunt Emma&rsquos altar was a year-round presence with a giant portrait of the Virgen de Guadalupe above a small table. Candles kept the memories of those who went before us alive.

Like so many other Mexican and Mexican American families, we visited and decorated the graves of our loved ones. As a girl, I didn&rsquot yet know that we were participating in ancient, indigenous rituals in which we invite our ancestors back from the underworld for brief visits, setting out their favorite foods and beverages alongside marigolds, or cempasúchil, whose fragrance guides their journeys home.

San Fernando Cemetery No. 2 on Castroville Road becomes a sea of marigolds this time of year.

More than 40 years ago, it was Centro Cultural Aztlán and longtime artist Ramón Vásquez y Sánchez who first encouraged making outdoor ofrendas for public view. That spurred a tradition that has spread 100-fold.

We&rsquove all reclaimed Día de los Muertos.

Over the last six months or so, a local Mexican-born marketing executive came to local officials with a project to produce a new Day of the Dead event at La Villita. Javier Ruiz Galindo, who has lived in the San Antonio area for 30 years, hasn&rsquot been widely known because his large-scale commercial productions for World Cup soccer and Formula One racing have been global, not local.

His firm Vida San Antonio is producing several events, including a river parade that, if successful, will be a marvel to watch. He wouldn&rsquot disclose his budget, but he&rsquos getting about $200,000 from Visit San Antonio. He&rsquos promising Mexican media coverage that he&rsquos likely to deliver.

&ldquoDespierta América,&rdquo &ldquoEl Gordo y la Flaca,&rdquo &ldquoPrimer Impacto&rdquo and Univision&rsquos &ldquoNoticiero&rdquo are all among the major TV shows that will broadcast from San Antonio this year. Visit San Antonio says that kind of airtime is valued at between $7 million and $9 million.

The new event has a lot of moving parts. The Rey Feo Consejo Educational Foundation will benefit from the new Catrinas on the River Parade. La Villita also will feature art, food and music, along with a Danza de las Mojigangas that will bring a new feature to the city&rsquos Day of the Dead landscape.

Chef Johnny Hernandez has been working on the project for six months, too. His contract to develop three restaurants in Maverick Plaza includes developing programming there. He&rsquoll likely spend a $50,000 pot allotted to him for that programming solely on the Day of the Dead event. It will be reimbursed from the Inner City Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone.

A huge cross-section of arts groups and entrepreneurs will host other Day of the Dead events, many of them decades older. Get why they&rsquore upset? But that&rsquos another column.


Día de los Muertos' appropriation is on global scale, and S.A., too

This altar for Emma Tenayuca was created by artist Regina Moya for the annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Pearl on Friday, November 2, 2018. Emma Tenayuca was a Mexican-American labor leader, union organizer and educator. She is best known for her work organizing Mexican workers in Texas during the 1930s.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

Young singers from the San Antonio Mariachi Academy perform onstage during the annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Pearl on Friday, November 2, 2018.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

The altar of the Isabel and Enrique Sanchez family features pictures of their deceased family members at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center's annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration on November 1, 2018. Center is pictured Enrique's great grandfather. Isabel is 95, her husband Enrique is 90.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

Día de los Muertos Celebration: In its seventh year, this Día de los Muertos fiesta has moved to Hemisfair but includes the same time-honored festivities and customs, including ofrendas, cultural workshops, a procession of the dead, art vendors, live music and poetry. Free. Saturday and Sunday. Hemisfair, 434 S. Alamo St., muertosfest.com.

Who owns Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead? Whose celebration of it is most authentic? Which events are most worthy of public support, and who gets to profit from it all?

As San Antonio prepares for several new public celebrations of that Mexican and Latin American spiritual and cultural holiday, these landmine questions are floating above the large-scale calaveras expected to pop up around downtown soon and the colorful trajineras that will float on the San Antonio River.

One issue is certain, a holiday meant to honor and remember los antepasados is already on steroids. Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and throughout the Americas, as it is in London and Paris, in San Antonio homes and by Latino and non-Latino arts organizations starting around the fourth weekend in October through the official days of Nov. 1-3.

To get an idea of how much the holiday has grown and been appropriated, both the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and the Austin-based head shop Planet K are holding events.

How you answer any of the questions above remains as touchy as ever, not just because of the issue of cultural appropriation and the nature of the holidays &mdash which often get confused with Halloween or misread as somehow sinister &mdash but because government funding to arts and cultural organizations can set off all sorts of drama.

The city&rsquos long history of inequity in arts funding doesn&rsquot help, as some grass-roots organizations have long battled for city recognition and funding. They already have reasons to be miffed. Then there&rsquos always the gripe about new events competing with established ones.

Visit San Antonio is embracing Day of the Dead to increase tourism &mdash ultimately to make San Antonio a U.S. Day of the Dead destination. But it&rsquos rubbing some people the wrong way, too, though the reality is that Mexicans are the city&rsquos No. 1 tourism population, by far.

The marketing of Day of the Dead can be controversial &mdash Still, let&rsquos face it, Day of the Dead merchandise is often made in China these days.

It&rsquos confounding that so many business interests have taken advantage of a tradition once celebrated in a Mexican American religious context, because Día de los Muertos falls on two Catholic feast days, All Saints Day Nov. 1 and All Souls Day Nov. 2.

At one time, Day of the Dead was a home-centered activity, predominantly on the city&rsquos West and South Sides, and most visible in altars, or ofrendas. My Aunt Emma&rsquos altar was a year-round presence with a giant portrait of the Virgen de Guadalupe above a small table. Candles kept the memories of those who went before us alive.

Like so many other Mexican and Mexican American families, we visited and decorated the graves of our loved ones. As a girl, I didn&rsquot yet know that we were participating in ancient, indigenous rituals in which we invite our ancestors back from the underworld for brief visits, setting out their favorite foods and beverages alongside marigolds, or cempasúchil, whose fragrance guides their journeys home.

San Fernando Cemetery No. 2 on Castroville Road becomes a sea of marigolds this time of year.

More than 40 years ago, it was Centro Cultural Aztlán and longtime artist Ramón Vásquez y Sánchez who first encouraged making outdoor ofrendas for public view. That spurred a tradition that has spread 100-fold.

We&rsquove all reclaimed Día de los Muertos.

Over the last six months or so, a local Mexican-born marketing executive came to local officials with a project to produce a new Day of the Dead event at La Villita. Javier Ruiz Galindo, who has lived in the San Antonio area for 30 years, hasn&rsquot been widely known because his large-scale commercial productions for World Cup soccer and Formula One racing have been global, not local.

His firm Vida San Antonio is producing several events, including a river parade that, if successful, will be a marvel to watch. He wouldn&rsquot disclose his budget, but he&rsquos getting about $200,000 from Visit San Antonio. He&rsquos promising Mexican media coverage that he&rsquos likely to deliver.

&ldquoDespierta América,&rdquo &ldquoEl Gordo y la Flaca,&rdquo &ldquoPrimer Impacto&rdquo and Univision&rsquos &ldquoNoticiero&rdquo are all among the major TV shows that will broadcast from San Antonio this year. Visit San Antonio says that kind of airtime is valued at between $7 million and $9 million.

The new event has a lot of moving parts. The Rey Feo Consejo Educational Foundation will benefit from the new Catrinas on the River Parade. La Villita also will feature art, food and music, along with a Danza de las Mojigangas that will bring a new feature to the city&rsquos Day of the Dead landscape.

Chef Johnny Hernandez has been working on the project for six months, too. His contract to develop three restaurants in Maverick Plaza includes developing programming there. He&rsquoll likely spend a $50,000 pot allotted to him for that programming solely on the Day of the Dead event. It will be reimbursed from the Inner City Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone.

A huge cross-section of arts groups and entrepreneurs will host other Day of the Dead events, many of them decades older. Get why they&rsquore upset? But that&rsquos another column.


Día de los Muertos' appropriation is on global scale, and S.A., too

This altar for Emma Tenayuca was created by artist Regina Moya for the annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Pearl on Friday, November 2, 2018. Emma Tenayuca was a Mexican-American labor leader, union organizer and educator. She is best known for her work organizing Mexican workers in Texas during the 1930s.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

Young singers from the San Antonio Mariachi Academy perform onstage during the annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Pearl on Friday, November 2, 2018.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

The altar of the Isabel and Enrique Sanchez family features pictures of their deceased family members at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center's annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration on November 1, 2018. Center is pictured Enrique's great grandfather. Isabel is 95, her husband Enrique is 90.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

Día de los Muertos Celebration: In its seventh year, this Día de los Muertos fiesta has moved to Hemisfair but includes the same time-honored festivities and customs, including ofrendas, cultural workshops, a procession of the dead, art vendors, live music and poetry. Free. Saturday and Sunday. Hemisfair, 434 S. Alamo St., muertosfest.com.

Who owns Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead? Whose celebration of it is most authentic? Which events are most worthy of public support, and who gets to profit from it all?

As San Antonio prepares for several new public celebrations of that Mexican and Latin American spiritual and cultural holiday, these landmine questions are floating above the large-scale calaveras expected to pop up around downtown soon and the colorful trajineras that will float on the San Antonio River.

One issue is certain, a holiday meant to honor and remember los antepasados is already on steroids. Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and throughout the Americas, as it is in London and Paris, in San Antonio homes and by Latino and non-Latino arts organizations starting around the fourth weekend in October through the official days of Nov. 1-3.

To get an idea of how much the holiday has grown and been appropriated, both the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and the Austin-based head shop Planet K are holding events.

How you answer any of the questions above remains as touchy as ever, not just because of the issue of cultural appropriation and the nature of the holidays &mdash which often get confused with Halloween or misread as somehow sinister &mdash but because government funding to arts and cultural organizations can set off all sorts of drama.

The city&rsquos long history of inequity in arts funding doesn&rsquot help, as some grass-roots organizations have long battled for city recognition and funding. They already have reasons to be miffed. Then there&rsquos always the gripe about new events competing with established ones.

Visit San Antonio is embracing Day of the Dead to increase tourism &mdash ultimately to make San Antonio a U.S. Day of the Dead destination. But it&rsquos rubbing some people the wrong way, too, though the reality is that Mexicans are the city&rsquos No. 1 tourism population, by far.

The marketing of Day of the Dead can be controversial &mdash Still, let&rsquos face it, Day of the Dead merchandise is often made in China these days.

It&rsquos confounding that so many business interests have taken advantage of a tradition once celebrated in a Mexican American religious context, because Día de los Muertos falls on two Catholic feast days, All Saints Day Nov. 1 and All Souls Day Nov. 2.

At one time, Day of the Dead was a home-centered activity, predominantly on the city&rsquos West and South Sides, and most visible in altars, or ofrendas. My Aunt Emma&rsquos altar was a year-round presence with a giant portrait of the Virgen de Guadalupe above a small table. Candles kept the memories of those who went before us alive.

Like so many other Mexican and Mexican American families, we visited and decorated the graves of our loved ones. As a girl, I didn&rsquot yet know that we were participating in ancient, indigenous rituals in which we invite our ancestors back from the underworld for brief visits, setting out their favorite foods and beverages alongside marigolds, or cempasúchil, whose fragrance guides their journeys home.

San Fernando Cemetery No. 2 on Castroville Road becomes a sea of marigolds this time of year.

More than 40 years ago, it was Centro Cultural Aztlán and longtime artist Ramón Vásquez y Sánchez who first encouraged making outdoor ofrendas for public view. That spurred a tradition that has spread 100-fold.

We&rsquove all reclaimed Día de los Muertos.

Over the last six months or so, a local Mexican-born marketing executive came to local officials with a project to produce a new Day of the Dead event at La Villita. Javier Ruiz Galindo, who has lived in the San Antonio area for 30 years, hasn&rsquot been widely known because his large-scale commercial productions for World Cup soccer and Formula One racing have been global, not local.

His firm Vida San Antonio is producing several events, including a river parade that, if successful, will be a marvel to watch. He wouldn&rsquot disclose his budget, but he&rsquos getting about $200,000 from Visit San Antonio. He&rsquos promising Mexican media coverage that he&rsquos likely to deliver.

&ldquoDespierta América,&rdquo &ldquoEl Gordo y la Flaca,&rdquo &ldquoPrimer Impacto&rdquo and Univision&rsquos &ldquoNoticiero&rdquo are all among the major TV shows that will broadcast from San Antonio this year. Visit San Antonio says that kind of airtime is valued at between $7 million and $9 million.

The new event has a lot of moving parts. The Rey Feo Consejo Educational Foundation will benefit from the new Catrinas on the River Parade. La Villita also will feature art, food and music, along with a Danza de las Mojigangas that will bring a new feature to the city&rsquos Day of the Dead landscape.

Chef Johnny Hernandez has been working on the project for six months, too. His contract to develop three restaurants in Maverick Plaza includes developing programming there. He&rsquoll likely spend a $50,000 pot allotted to him for that programming solely on the Day of the Dead event. It will be reimbursed from the Inner City Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone.

A huge cross-section of arts groups and entrepreneurs will host other Day of the Dead events, many of them decades older. Get why they&rsquore upset? But that&rsquos another column.


Día de los Muertos' appropriation is on global scale, and S.A., too

This altar for Emma Tenayuca was created by artist Regina Moya for the annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Pearl on Friday, November 2, 2018. Emma Tenayuca was a Mexican-American labor leader, union organizer and educator. She is best known for her work organizing Mexican workers in Texas during the 1930s.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

Young singers from the San Antonio Mariachi Academy perform onstage during the annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Pearl on Friday, November 2, 2018.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

The altar of the Isabel and Enrique Sanchez family features pictures of their deceased family members at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center's annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration on November 1, 2018. Center is pictured Enrique's great grandfather. Isabel is 95, her husband Enrique is 90.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

Día de los Muertos Celebration: In its seventh year, this Día de los Muertos fiesta has moved to Hemisfair but includes the same time-honored festivities and customs, including ofrendas, cultural workshops, a procession of the dead, art vendors, live music and poetry. Free. Saturday and Sunday. Hemisfair, 434 S. Alamo St., muertosfest.com.

Who owns Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead? Whose celebration of it is most authentic? Which events are most worthy of public support, and who gets to profit from it all?

As San Antonio prepares for several new public celebrations of that Mexican and Latin American spiritual and cultural holiday, these landmine questions are floating above the large-scale calaveras expected to pop up around downtown soon and the colorful trajineras that will float on the San Antonio River.

One issue is certain, a holiday meant to honor and remember los antepasados is already on steroids. Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and throughout the Americas, as it is in London and Paris, in San Antonio homes and by Latino and non-Latino arts organizations starting around the fourth weekend in October through the official days of Nov. 1-3.

To get an idea of how much the holiday has grown and been appropriated, both the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and the Austin-based head shop Planet K are holding events.

How you answer any of the questions above remains as touchy as ever, not just because of the issue of cultural appropriation and the nature of the holidays &mdash which often get confused with Halloween or misread as somehow sinister &mdash but because government funding to arts and cultural organizations can set off all sorts of drama.

The city&rsquos long history of inequity in arts funding doesn&rsquot help, as some grass-roots organizations have long battled for city recognition and funding. They already have reasons to be miffed. Then there&rsquos always the gripe about new events competing with established ones.

Visit San Antonio is embracing Day of the Dead to increase tourism &mdash ultimately to make San Antonio a U.S. Day of the Dead destination. But it&rsquos rubbing some people the wrong way, too, though the reality is that Mexicans are the city&rsquos No. 1 tourism population, by far.

The marketing of Day of the Dead can be controversial &mdash Still, let&rsquos face it, Day of the Dead merchandise is often made in China these days.

It&rsquos confounding that so many business interests have taken advantage of a tradition once celebrated in a Mexican American religious context, because Día de los Muertos falls on two Catholic feast days, All Saints Day Nov. 1 and All Souls Day Nov. 2.

At one time, Day of the Dead was a home-centered activity, predominantly on the city&rsquos West and South Sides, and most visible in altars, or ofrendas. My Aunt Emma&rsquos altar was a year-round presence with a giant portrait of the Virgen de Guadalupe above a small table. Candles kept the memories of those who went before us alive.

Like so many other Mexican and Mexican American families, we visited and decorated the graves of our loved ones. As a girl, I didn&rsquot yet know that we were participating in ancient, indigenous rituals in which we invite our ancestors back from the underworld for brief visits, setting out their favorite foods and beverages alongside marigolds, or cempasúchil, whose fragrance guides their journeys home.

San Fernando Cemetery No. 2 on Castroville Road becomes a sea of marigolds this time of year.

More than 40 years ago, it was Centro Cultural Aztlán and longtime artist Ramón Vásquez y Sánchez who first encouraged making outdoor ofrendas for public view. That spurred a tradition that has spread 100-fold.

We&rsquove all reclaimed Día de los Muertos.

Over the last six months or so, a local Mexican-born marketing executive came to local officials with a project to produce a new Day of the Dead event at La Villita. Javier Ruiz Galindo, who has lived in the San Antonio area for 30 years, hasn&rsquot been widely known because his large-scale commercial productions for World Cup soccer and Formula One racing have been global, not local.

His firm Vida San Antonio is producing several events, including a river parade that, if successful, will be a marvel to watch. He wouldn&rsquot disclose his budget, but he&rsquos getting about $200,000 from Visit San Antonio. He&rsquos promising Mexican media coverage that he&rsquos likely to deliver.

&ldquoDespierta América,&rdquo &ldquoEl Gordo y la Flaca,&rdquo &ldquoPrimer Impacto&rdquo and Univision&rsquos &ldquoNoticiero&rdquo are all among the major TV shows that will broadcast from San Antonio this year. Visit San Antonio says that kind of airtime is valued at between $7 million and $9 million.

The new event has a lot of moving parts. The Rey Feo Consejo Educational Foundation will benefit from the new Catrinas on the River Parade. La Villita also will feature art, food and music, along with a Danza de las Mojigangas that will bring a new feature to the city&rsquos Day of the Dead landscape.

Chef Johnny Hernandez has been working on the project for six months, too. His contract to develop three restaurants in Maverick Plaza includes developing programming there. He&rsquoll likely spend a $50,000 pot allotted to him for that programming solely on the Day of the Dead event. It will be reimbursed from the Inner City Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone.

A huge cross-section of arts groups and entrepreneurs will host other Day of the Dead events, many of them decades older. Get why they&rsquore upset? But that&rsquos another column.


Día de los Muertos' appropriation is on global scale, and S.A., too

This altar for Emma Tenayuca was created by artist Regina Moya for the annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Pearl on Friday, November 2, 2018. Emma Tenayuca was a Mexican-American labor leader, union organizer and educator. She is best known for her work organizing Mexican workers in Texas during the 1930s.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

Young singers from the San Antonio Mariachi Academy perform onstage during the annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Pearl on Friday, November 2, 2018.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

The altar of the Isabel and Enrique Sanchez family features pictures of their deceased family members at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center's annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration on November 1, 2018. Center is pictured Enrique's great grandfather. Isabel is 95, her husband Enrique is 90.

Matthew Busch, For The San Antonio Express-News / For The San Antonio Express-News Show More Show Less

Día de los Muertos Celebration: In its seventh year, this Día de los Muertos fiesta has moved to Hemisfair but includes the same time-honored festivities and customs, including ofrendas, cultural workshops, a procession of the dead, art vendors, live music and poetry. Free. Saturday and Sunday. Hemisfair, 434 S. Alamo St., muertosfest.com.

Who owns Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead? Whose celebration of it is most authentic? Which events are most worthy of public support, and who gets to profit from it all?

As San Antonio prepares for several new public celebrations of that Mexican and Latin American spiritual and cultural holiday, these landmine questions are floating above the large-scale calaveras expected to pop up around downtown soon and the colorful trajineras that will float on the San Antonio River.

One issue is certain, a holiday meant to honor and remember los antepasados is already on steroids. Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and throughout the Americas, as it is in London and Paris, in San Antonio homes and by Latino and non-Latino arts organizations starting around the fourth weekend in October through the official days of Nov. 1-3.

To get an idea of how much the holiday has grown and been appropriated, both the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and the Austin-based head shop Planet K are holding events.

How you answer any of the questions above remains as touchy as ever, not just because of the issue of cultural appropriation and the nature of the holidays &mdash which often get confused with Halloween or misread as somehow sinister &mdash but because government funding to arts and cultural organizations can set off all sorts of drama.

The city&rsquos long history of inequity in arts funding doesn&rsquot help, as some grass-roots organizations have long battled for city recognition and funding. They already have reasons to be miffed. Then there&rsquos always the gripe about new events competing with established ones.

Visit San Antonio is embracing Day of the Dead to increase tourism &mdash ultimately to make San Antonio a U.S. Day of the Dead destination. But it&rsquos rubbing some people the wrong way, too, though the reality is that Mexicans are the city&rsquos No. 1 tourism population, by far.

The marketing of Day of the Dead can be controversial &mdash Still, let&rsquos face it, Day of the Dead merchandise is often made in China these days.

It&rsquos confounding that so many business interests have taken advantage of a tradition once celebrated in a Mexican American religious context, because Día de los Muertos falls on two Catholic feast days, All Saints Day Nov. 1 and All Souls Day Nov. 2.

At one time, Day of the Dead was a home-centered activity, predominantly on the city&rsquos West and South Sides, and most visible in altars, or ofrendas. My Aunt Emma&rsquos altar was a year-round presence with a giant portrait of the Virgen de Guadalupe above a small table. Candles kept the memories of those who went before us alive.

Like so many other Mexican and Mexican American families, we visited and decorated the graves of our loved ones. As a girl, I didn&rsquot yet know that we were participating in ancient, indigenous rituals in which we invite our ancestors back from the underworld for brief visits, setting out their favorite foods and beverages alongside marigolds, or cempasúchil, whose fragrance guides their journeys home.

San Fernando Cemetery No. 2 on Castroville Road becomes a sea of marigolds this time of year.

More than 40 years ago, it was Centro Cultural Aztlán and longtime artist Ramón Vásquez y Sánchez who first encouraged making outdoor ofrendas for public view. That spurred a tradition that has spread 100-fold.

We&rsquove all reclaimed Día de los Muertos.

Over the last six months or so, a local Mexican-born marketing executive came to local officials with a project to produce a new Day of the Dead event at La Villita. Javier Ruiz Galindo, who has lived in the San Antonio area for 30 years, hasn&rsquot been widely known because his large-scale commercial productions for World Cup soccer and Formula One racing have been global, not local.

His firm Vida San Antonio is producing several events, including a river parade that, if successful, will be a marvel to watch. He wouldn&rsquot disclose his budget, but he&rsquos getting about $200,000 from Visit San Antonio. He&rsquos promising Mexican media coverage that he&rsquos likely to deliver.

&ldquoDespierta América,&rdquo &ldquoEl Gordo y la Flaca,&rdquo &ldquoPrimer Impacto&rdquo and Univision&rsquos &ldquoNoticiero&rdquo are all among the major TV shows that will broadcast from San Antonio this year. Visit San Antonio says that kind of airtime is valued at between $7 million and $9 million.

The new event has a lot of moving parts. The Rey Feo Consejo Educational Foundation will benefit from the new Catrinas on the River Parade. La Villita also will feature art, food and music, along with a Danza de las Mojigangas that will bring a new feature to the city&rsquos Day of the Dead landscape.

Chef Johnny Hernandez has been working on the project for six months, too. His contract to develop three restaurants in Maverick Plaza includes developing programming there. He&rsquoll likely spend a $50,000 pot allotted to him for that programming solely on the Day of the Dead event. It will be reimbursed from the Inner City Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone.

A huge cross-section of arts groups and entrepreneurs will host other Day of the Dead events, many of them decades older. Get why they&rsquore upset? But that&rsquos another column.


Watch the video: Dia de los muertos - students slideshow (November 2021).