The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Día de los Muertos returns to Olvera Street

November 2, 2021

Día de los Muertos is a multi-day event where people celebrate their loved ones who have died. Families make ofrendas, or altars, for their loved one to help welcome them back into the world of living. On the altars are loved ones’ favorite foods and pastries, along with photos, flowers and candles to guide them. 

For over 30 years, Olvera Street has been the place to celebrate Día De Los Muertos in Los Angeles. Vendors and the community come together to throw a nine day celebration honoring the dead, which attracts the attention of locals and tourists. 

Olvera Street is known as “the birthplace of Los Angeles” and was created to help preserve the early Californian trades and customs. All year round, merchants are lined up and down the middle of the pathway. They sell a variety of Mexican handcrafted items and food. 

Musicians and performance groups celebrate the holiday and stand with artists painting the faces of patrons to resemble the skeletal face of La Catrina, who has become one of the symbols of Día De Los Muertos. 

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  • Marigolds hang all over Olvera Street for Dia De Los Muertos. These bright orange flowers, known as ‘the flowers of the dead,’ are the most common to see around Dia De Los Muertos. (Elizabeth Agazaryan / Golden Gate Xpress)

  • Dominic Ioza and Christina Hernandez (left to right) take photos on Olvera Street dressed up in traditional face paint. (Elizabeth Agazaryan / Golden Gate Xpress)

  • The Olvera Street sign stands at the entrance of the historic marketplace in Los Angeles, on Oct. 30, 2021. Every year, Olvera Street fills up for a week with people celebrating Dia De Los Muertos. (Elizabeth Agazaryan / Golden Gate Xpress)

  • People wait in line to get food from Cielito Lindo at the end of Olvera Street on Oct. 30, 2021. Selling traditional Mexican food, Cielito Lindo has been a staple of Olvera Street since 1934. (Elizabeth Agazaryan / Golden Gate Xpress)

  • Wyatt Espinoza dances around after getting his face painted in traditional Dia De Los Muertos designs. Skulls and flowers are the most common designs done. (Elizabeth Agazaryan / Golden Gate Xpress)

  • A woman buys a flower crown from one of the many vendors at Olvera Street on Oct. 30, 2021. Flower crowns are worn by many as a way to celebrate the dead and guide them to the correct altar. (Elizabeth Agazaryan / Golden Gate Xpress)

  • An ofrenda depicting two skeletons having a drink was one of ofrendas seen around Olvera Street in the week leading up to Dia De Los Muertos. (Elizabeth Agazaryan / Golden Gate Xpress)

  • Kahlovera face painting was one of the many places guests could get traditional face paintings at Olvera Street. The designs tend to depict Catholic beliefs, as well as the culture of Indigenous Mexicans. (Elizabeth Agazaryan / Golden Gate Xpress)

  • A crowd gathers to watch a comedy group sing and dance at Olvera Street on Oct. 30, 2021. (Elizabeth Agazaryan / Golden Gate Xpress)

  • Dia De Los Muertos candles for sale on Olvera Street on Oct. 30, 2021. Candles are an important part of ofrendas, as they are meant to welcome spirits back when lit. (Elizabeth Agazaryan / Golden Gate Xpress)

  • Skeletons dressed in Dia De Los Muertos attire stand outside of a shop at Olvera Street on Oct. 30, 2021. This style of skeleton is a common symbol used to represent life after death. (Elizabeth Agazaryan / Golden Gate Xpress)

  • A performer that is part of a comedy group talks and sings to the bystanders in Spanish on Olvera Street on Oct. 30, 2021. (Elizabeth Agazaryan / Golden Gate Xpress)

  • An ofrenda created for the Los Angeles Rams was on display leading up to the team’s game on Sunday. (Elizabeth Agazaryan / Golden Gate Xpress)

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About the Contributors
Photo of Elizabeth Agazaryan
Elizabeth Agazaryan
Elizabeth Agazaryan is a student at San Francisco State University majoring in Photojournalism with a minor in Anthropology. While photographing and writing, she has covered various levels of sports. She looks forward to expanding her knowledge of journalism, as well as sports, throughout her career. 

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