The Catholic community in San Jose is large, vibrant, and well-established, with roots that reach down to the earliest days of our nation’s establishment. The number of Hispanic Catholics in San Jose continues to rise, and this growing population brings with it a rich cultural heritage. One very important holiday for this community is Dia de Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.
Contrary to what some people believe, Dia de los Muertos is not “Mexican Halloween.” Rather it’s a traditional holiday that reunites and honors beloved ancestors, family, and friends. In fact, the roots of this tradition go back about 3,000 years, to the rituals honoring the dead in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations. The people of those ancient cultures saw death as an integral, ever-present part of life. Today the traditions of Dia de los Muertos support the conversation on death, giving us all to the opportunity to reflect on our own ancestors, remembering those who have died and sharing their legacy. It’s believed to be a time in which the living and the dead commune as the veil is lifted between their two realms.
On this important day, family members create altars and give offerings to lovingly welcome and remember their dead. These altars, known as ofrendas, often incorporate the four elements of Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire. Families come together on Dia de los Muertos to share stories about their ancestors and remember those loved ones who have died. Through the creation of ofrendas and the telling of stories, they’re able to teach their children about those who came before them, creating connections that bind family members together across generations, even transcending death.
Rather than a mournful commemoration of death, Dia de los Muertos is a colorful, happy celebration of life. It embraces death as a natural part of life itself and celebrates life in the process. Perhaps this is what makes this holiday so universally appealing: it helps us all to begin to accept death and contemplate the meaning of mortality, while encouraging us to celebrate our lives and our connections with others.
The Catholic Cemeteries of the Diocese of San Jose is proud to be a part of the Catholic Community in San Jose, California. Committed to providing a sacred place where families can remember loved ones in a peaceful and hope-filled setting, we welcome you and your family to visit our properties and experience the peace of these prayerful places. If you have questions, we’re happy to answer them. We have three locations: Calvary Catholic Cemetery in San Jose, Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Los Altos, and St. John the Baptist Cemetery in Milpitas. If you’d like to know more about our properties, or you need to know where to send flowers, you can contact us through our website, or call Calvary at 833-428-0379, Gate of Heaven at 833-304-0763, or St. John the Baptist at 833-428-0379.