Looking for a way to celebrate Day of the Dead while visiting the South Bay?
For the 9th year in a row, residents and visitors of San Jose celebrated Dia San Jose at Plaza de Cezar Chavez. The street festival showcases local food, art, and music.
This festival is centered around the holiday, Day of the Dead, derived from the Aztecs in Mexico. It is a tradition based upon celebrating life and remembering those who have passed on.
Historically, these festivities are in the summer time. However, after absorbing elements of Christianity, it was moved to Nov. 1 & 2 to harmonize with the religious holidays named All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day. Celebrating the Day of the Dead has since spread throughout Latin America and even Spain.
This was my first time attending this event and I was not disappointed. Despite having a late start, there were plenty of entertaining attractions.
Upon entering the festival, there is a pathway lined with trinket booths and a wrestling stage for the Lucha Libre matches.
Rich shades of gold, blue, purple and yellow gleamed from costumes of calacas (skeletons) and luchadors (wrestlers). Throughout the festival, they may be spotted leftover from the parade and lucha libre match earlier in the day.
The lawn area next to the main music stage (did someone say cumbia?!) is the Beer Garden. It is the perfect scene for kicking back, michelada in hand.
Upon entering the event, the eye is immediately drawn to the extensive amount of artwork throughout the event. Local artists are able to showcase their Day of the Dead inspired artwork for the public to enjoy (and even purchase!)
This is by far my favorite part of the festival. I love seeing local artists grow representing the Bay!
You can find more about the artist who created the above two pictures murals at: @carlosrmk (above)
Personally, I can’t keep away from checking out every single booth and love a unique find. Each had it’s own unique novelty items including ceramic skulls, flowers, and pan de muerto, which is usually found on altars. I was excited to find all of these at the festival, while also snagging a bag of pan dulce to take home!
Various booths with food, traditional art work, trinkets and souvenirs are lined up for easy access while walking through with a cerveza (beer).
Traditionally with the Day of the Dead, altars are decorated with pictures of deceased loved ones and lit candles. These candles guide these ancestral spirits safely back to Earth. The favorite food and drinks of the dead (even alcoholic) are placed at their altars. This is to quench the thirst of these spirits who journey back to visit their cherished ones.
Bringing San Jose’s own tradition to this festival, Dia San Jose featured local low-rider car clubs displaying their beautiful rides, adorned in altars of passed loved ones. (And pets!)
I had a great time with friends celebrating cultural pride and la mezcla de culturas (the blending of different cultures).
I will without a doubt be back next year!