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Thursday, October 11, 2007


Valley Dental Hygienist Melissa Gunn arranges Hallow'een decorations in the office of Dr. Roberta Cerveny in Encino

The native Tongva and Chumash, who have lived in Southern California for centuries, had important rituals and traditions related to their dead relatives. The eve of All Saints Day (All Hallows Eve) became an important part of San Fernando Valley history and religon with the arrival of Spanish Catholic missionaries in the late 1700s.

No meat was eaten on All Saints eve, since November 1st was a major Christian holiday. Actually the Catholic church borrowed the holiday from the ancient Romans who celebrated the day as the Feast of All Gods (check out the Pantheon in Rome someday.) November 2nd was the Roman Feast of all human souls (genius for guys, anima for the ladies). The church turned that day into All Souls Day, a time when people can pray for the salvation of departed loved ones.

When the Spanish conquored the peoples of the Valley of Mexico, their padres moved the Aztec and other folks' day of the dead to All Souls Day. Dia de los Muertos has been part of Valley life and death since the Franciscans came to found the Mission of San Fernando Rey de Espagña. There are two important places to visit in Los Angeles to celebrate Day of the Dead. The first is the Canoga Park Youth Arts Center (the children make incredible family shrines) and the second is Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Gods of light are orange and yellow. Gods of darkness are black and purple. Jack is another name for the devil (Jacks in card decks are called knaves for a reason!) So get a calabasa and carve a Jack-o-lantern to ward away unwanted ghosts and internet spam.
ps --------- Melissa is a great hygienist!

1 comment:

RANIA said...

And let's not forget to join in the local valley celebrations of "Dia De"--one of the largest being in Canoga Park on Main Street! This year's parade and festivities are on Sun, Nov 4; ck out their for all the Day of the Dead happenings! Fabulous costumes, food, and entertainment...all FREE!