I didn't grow up in Los Angeles; and although I have Latin American family, we are not of the Mexican or Guatemalan variety - meaning I arrived in SoCal knowing next to nothing about Day of the Dead. I've gradually pieced together the whole fascinating cultural and historical puzzle, discovering how many Halloween traditions we actually owe to the Native Americans who were in the city of angels before us, before the Spanish, before Christianity. El Día de los Muertos is a rare opportunity to understand several layers of angeleno culture, while celebrating something that looks a heck of a lot like Halloween.
While LA offers many Day of the Dead celebrations, the most authentic may be the novenarios, the nine nights of revelry leading up to November 2. Many Spanish-speaking countries have novenarios leading up to Christmas, but there is a similar build-up to the Day of the Dead, and here in LA it is most celebrated, not surprisingly, on Olvera Street. I've been curious to check out this traditional celebration for years, but between ghost trains and haunted houses our last week of October has always been booked solid. Not to mention that whole parking downtown thing. This year I finally decided to take the sugar skull by the horns and go see what it's all about. Curious?