Dia de los Muertos, All Souls remember lost ones


Faces painted black and white create a ghostly glow of loved ones lost. This is but one of the customs of the All Souls Procession and Dia de los Muertos.

There are several different ways people remember the deceased. Common festivities of Mexican origin in the United States and native to the Southwest, include parades for Dia de los Muertos. In Tucson, there’s the All Souls Procession, which is inspired by both All Souls Day and Dia de los Muertos. All Souls Day is a Catholic holiday that was set aside so those of who have lost someone can remember them and also pray.

The All Souls Procession debuted in Tucson in 1990 and has been going strong ever since.

The All Souls Procession, happens on Nov. 8. The event has grown to host a plethora of artists all inspired to create and partake in the celebrations. It also includes another altar dedicated for children who have died, to honor their memory. Participants engage in many activities to help them enjoy and understand the event, including storytelling, theater, decorating sugar skulls, and making wings.

The procession is a free, weekend-long event hosted at Armory Park. The Procession of Little Angels and Altar Vigils taking place on Nov. 7 (3 to 7 p.m.).This is supposed to be done from the perspective of children.

The All Souls Procession last year hosted more than 150,000 participants. The event is a huge part of Tucson’s culture and is a pillar of the Hispanic culture. At Pima Community College, there is a DDLM altar and other festivities.

All Souls Day and Dia de los Muertos have some similarities, but they also have a different way of remembering those no longer with us.

ASD focused more on the prayer and remembrance, while Dia de los Muertos is a grandiose celebration of the dead’s life. Ways of celebrating DDLM include graveside offerings, decorating altars of loved ones, and a parade.

Dia de los Muertos celebrates and remembers the dead just as All Souls Day does, but it also celebrates the dead as if they were alive, by having picnics at the graves of those they have lost. The family gathers and invite the dead for a meal.

Dia de los Muertos is often confused or associated with Halloween. Although the holidays have a few similarities, traditionally and culturally, they aren’t the same. It’s commonly enjoyed with food, flowers, music, and drinks, making it seem much livelier than the more macabre Halloween activities.

At PCC there are a few Dia de Los Muertos related activities going on. There is an altar being created by students and faculty at the West Campus. PCC student Jacqueline Schamahorn said, “I think it’s a great idea, it’s something that Pima students who want to pay their respects or remember their loved ones, and they can do so here on campus.”

Dia de los Muertos and the All Souls Procession are and will continue to be important parts of Tucson’s culture. Both events are historic, full of color and important to the many individuals who take place in the festivities.

David Pujol/Aztec Press Dia De Los Muertos altar in West Campus student service center at Pima Community College.
David Pujol/Aztec Press
Dia De Los Muertos altar in West Campus student service center at Pima Community College.

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