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Día de los Muertos celebrations kick off in Los Angeles

Festive Día de los Muertos celebrations are in full swing across Southern California on Tuesday night to celebrate the Mexican holiday.

Taking place annually from Nov. 1-2, the Day of Dead honors loved ones who have passed away. The Olvera Street celebrations will take place over nine days, featuring music, a walking procession and colorful dances.

“Each one of our dances is a ceremony and a blessing,” explains Gabriel Gonzales, an Azteca dancer performing in the celebration. “So sometimes it could be about the underworld, sometimes it could be about the harvest or even about the seasons, as well.”

The Mexican tradition dates back thousands of years, celebrating the lives of loved ones who have passed on to the afterlife. It’s believed that the souls of the dead return to visit their living relatives on Día de los Muertos.

Traditionally, an ofrenda or an altar, is set up to honor the ones being remembered. The ofrendas are typically filled with their picture along with a few of their favorite things including food. Other items traditionally included can be marigolds and religious symbols.

Visitors of all ages were seen placing pictures of their loved ones on ofrendas along Olvera Street.

“This tradition is important for everybody,” says local resident Isabel Venegas. “Now we understand why we come to celebrate the people who pass away.”

Local resident Hector Venegas says seeing the celebrations in person makes him feel proud of his culture.

“And now they know the heritage of the movies,” says Hector. “They show the rest of the world how Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead.”

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