Dia de los Muertos and the All Souls Procession

This article was written by LFA Intern Lorena Contreras Day of the Dead Altar     The Day of the Dead is a holiday from native Mexican culture, celebrated from October 31st to All Souls Day on November 2nd.  This holiday has become part of the heritage of the old pueblo. While it is not a Dia De Los Muertos specific event, Tucson's All Souls Procession "was created to serve the public need to mourn, reflect, and celebrate the universal experience of Death, through their ancestors, loved ones, and the living".  The procession pays respect to all different traditions and expressions of  honoring the dead.  Today over 150,000 participants parade through the streets of Downtown Tucson as part of the festival. The All Souls Procession is a ceremony made up of all kinds of collaborative performances, arts, workshops, and festivities. Most importantly this a meaningful and authentic Tucson ceremony that takes the traditional ceremonies to another dimension, bringing people together to remember and celebrate the lives of loved ones and the ancestors that are no longer with us.

Mexican folk art is a central, and colorful, theme to the Day of the Dead festivities. Those who celebrate Day of the Dead and the All Souls Procession often adorn their homes, and bodies, with colorful artwork and sculptures in the Mexican folk art style. If you’re looking for inspiration, gifts, or you’re looking to start your own Day of the Dead altar, look no further than Picante Designs and Arte De La Vida, located on the Sunshine Mile. The Sunshine Mile on Broadway between Euclid Ave. and Country Club Rd., it is home to 20th Century iconic architecture, restaurants, boutiques, galleries, and more. Picante Designs and Arte De La Vida are boutiques that have fully embraced Tucson’s love of the culture and art of Day of the Dead and the All Souls Procession.

Picante DesignsPicante Designs Boutique has traditional Mexican art imported from Mexico. Apparel, jewelry, crosses, and pillows all made with vibrant colors and intricate designs indicative of the Dia De Los Muertos style. Picante has been a Tucson locally owned and operated business for over a decade. For years they have carried on the tradition of honoring the dead and adjusting to the modernization of those traditions by offering all the artifacts needed for this celebration. Everything you need to decorate your home and altar from table cloths and paper picado, sugar skulls and figurines of all shapes and sizes, to milagros and religious crafts. Picante Designs  offers “What you love about Mexico locally available in Tucson”.

Arte de la VidaArte de la Vida is located at the heart of Sunshine Mile. Arte de la Vida offers furniture, pottery, apparel, tableware, Day of the Dead figurines and many more vintage items personally acquired by the owners Kevin and James. The owners were inspired by vintage Mexican folk art when opening their business.  Arte de la Vida extended their space to include an art gallery, Galleria Senita, where they host different exhibitions year round. Their first exhibition is the 2015 Annual Dia de Los Muertos Ofrenda Show. From October 9th to November 8th 2015, the gallery will exhibit six Ofrenda Altars made by local artist. This colorful room celebrates the holiday with vintage skulls, masks, books and other vintage relics for Day of the Dead. If you are driving down Sunshine Mile, stop by Picante Designs  or Arte De La Vida. Get inspired by the Ofrenda Altars at Galleria Senita or add a pop of color of Mexican folk art to your home.

Who doesn't want to get their face painted for the All Souls Parade?  Hotel Congress honors the dead by offering free face painting starting at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 8th at the Hotel Congress Plaza. Over the years Hotel Congress has had to doubled their team of face painters to accommodate everyone that wants to be transformed into skeletons for the parade. Like most of us, Hotel Congress hates long lines, so they have employed a texting system this year to allow you to hang out and explore around in a family-friendly environment while you wait for your turn. This is their third year Hotel Congress has offered face painting for the community and they’ve developed a quick system to make sure that you’re ready in time for the procession at 6:30 p.m.

All Souls ProcessionThe All Souls Procession Weekend is full of festivities, this year on November 7 and 8.  The All Souls Procession will be on Sunday, November 8 at 6:30pm. The procession  honors UnMournable Bodies. The lives of souls of the imprisoned, addicts, suicides, illegal immigrants, homeless, refugees, mentally ill, civilian casualties, destitute the lives and souls this people that have not been valued and forgotten. Be sure to arrive early to get a parking space or consider carpooling, walking, biking, or taking the streetcar to avoid traffic. Bring comfortable shoes, a flashlight and drink plenty of water. Participants  and audience will begin gathering at 4:00 p.m. along the route. The Procession will begin at 6:30 p.m. at N. 6th Ave and 7th street. The procession will wind through downtown to music, spirit groups, floats, altars and more. If you would like to march with a group you must be registered prior to the parade, but  If you are watching the procession from the sidewalk you are welcome to join the march after the Urn and taiko drums have passed.  The route ends at the Finale Ceremony that will take place at the lot east of the Mercado San Agustin. During the finale the Urn will be burned with people's offerings. followed by the Finales’ celebration musical guests Grey Filastine and Nove.

The All Souls Day Procession is available to all and free to the public. Come and enjoy the experience honoring and remembering the dead. Dress up, get your face painted, make a mask or a costume and be part of this beautiful celebration that makes Tucson special.