Mayor Jean Quan's E-News Special Dia de los Muertos  Volume 3, Issue 45
Celebrating Day of the Dead in Oakland


Dear (Contact First Name), 

  Oakland hosts some of the most colorful celebrations of the Day of the Dead in this country. This Mexican holiday with roots in Aztec culture celebrates friends and relatives who have died. The holiday occurs on November 1st and 2nd, in connection with the Catholic holy days of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.  It is one of my favorite holidays; I even put up my own "offrenda" each year in the Mayor's Office displaying my small collection of Mexican folk art and contemporary pieces by Bay Area artists (right).


dia de los muertos


 Fruitvale Festival -- Largest in the East Bay
Saturday, November 2nd, 10 am - 5 pm 

Oakland holds one the largest Dia de los Muertos Festivals in California. On Saturday, November 2nd, 10 am to 5 pm, the Fruitvale is a living art gallery with both traditional and distinctively multicultural altars scattered through the 7 block area of food, crafts, vendors and  stages of live entertainment encompassing the Fruitvale Transit Village area.

We have helped sponsor this event and will have a booth, come by and visit with us.  We will be on 12th Street between 34th and 35th.

The merchant area on International Blvd from Fruitvale to about 38th Avenue and Fruitvale Blvd up from the BART station for 4-5 blocks is composed of many Mexican and other Latin American organizations and stores selling traditional foods and decorations for Day of the Dead.  Even when there is no festival, it is worth exploring the stores and sampling the regional cuisines of Mexico.  (Left) Son Will and daughter-in-law Angela show the shirts they bought last year


Day of the Dead Arts

Both the Oakland Museum which just held its Dia event last Sunday and Fruitvale Festivals feature many vendors selling traditional folk and modern Day of the Dead Arts. Don't forget the Museum's Shops; members enjoy a 10% discount.
A great year round source is Corazon del Pueblo, 4814 International Blvd; drop by it is nearby if you go to the Fruitvale Festival.
Multicultural Altars & Modern Themes 


I enjoy watching the celebration of this holiday evolve in our city.  Each year the events and altars reflect an increasingly multicultural blend with both traditional and modern elements.  In many Asian cultures we keep altars in our homes year round honoring our ancestors.  This altar in this years museum exhibit (above)  merges the elements of both Chinese and Latin cultures.


As a Chinese American I know i love this holiday because it is very similar to Ching Ming -- a day when Chinese families go to clean graves and picnic, honoring and sharing food with our ancestors.  My father died when I was five; I remember it as a time when I felt close to my father and when all the cousins could play with firecrackers as our extended family gathered.


The Tree of Life and Death: Días de los Muertos 2013
Through December 8, 2013 at the Oakland Museum 

The Mesoamerican tradition of Días de los Muertos, celebrated between October 31 and November 2, is associated with iconic elements-sugar skulls, marigolds, colorful ofrendas-arranged or created to honor deceased loved ones.

This fall, OMCA presents its 19th annual Días de los Muertos exhibition, The Tree of Life and Death: Días de los Muertos 2013, guest curated by renowned muralist Eduardo Pineda, and project managed by Senior Experience Developer Evenlyn Orantes. Housed in the transformed Gallery of California Natural Sciences, installations by guest artists fuse the themes of life, death, and mourning with ecology, focusing on topics including indigenous knowledge, empathy, habitat and species loss, and accountability for preventing such losses through conservation and action.

For many students in Oakland, it is a safe time to talk about death and violence in our city. Public students are always part of the museum exhibit.


Day of the Dead Foods


This a great opportunity to explore the great variety of Latin markets and bakeries in Oakland.  Whether you go to a glossy supermarket like Mi Pueblo on High just west of Foothill or the small shops along Fruitvale or International, most feature some of the special foods enjoyed at this time. Look for the Day of the Dead breads, sugar skulls, and tamales. Sugar skulls are also sold at the booths at both events above.  Dozens of restaurants round out your food choices in this area; many serving regional Mexican food not available elsewhere.


noche de los muertos  


Our family's favorite tamales are sold downtown at this great Oakland institution, La Borinqueña Mex-icatessen, 582 7th Street, 444-9954.  Try them at the Museum but buy them by the dozen (and don't forget to buy sauce or chorizo) at their store.  I always serve these at our annual district fundraiser!

Noche de los Muertos, Sunday, November 3, 3-7pm, La Borinquena Mex-icatessen, 582 7th St
FREE. This year La Borinquena is giving a fundraiser for WCRC (Women's Cancer Resource Center). A % of sales from ALL vendors (Art, Food & Drink) are being DONATED. Celebrate your loved ones, purchase amazing LOCALLY made goods AND support WCRC at the same time!  This is a kid-friendly event! Bring los niños!
  • LIVE Dee Jays in the back patio. 
  • Mexican Inspired Food by: Tina Tamale, Fist of Flour Pizza, Big Serg BBQ & Oaktown Jerk
  • Vendors: Forrealism Fine Art, Localite Tours & Facepainting by Alana Dill
  • Local Beer & Wine 
  • Blessing at 5:30pm
  • Day of the Dead Community Altar -- Bring a photo of your departed loved one(s) to place in the altar for the night. 
  • Be Green! Venue is a short bike ride from West Oakland BART, Jack London/Old Oakland & Downtown Oakland 

For more info, see their FaceBook Page.



Mayor Jean Quan

City Hall, 3rd Floor, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza
 Oakland, California 94612
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