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Davis, California

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Davis community honors passed loved ones by celebrating Día de los Muertos

This year’s event at Central Park also acknowledged Transgender Day of Remembrance


By CHRIS PONCE city@theaggie.org


Content warning: This article contains discussions of transphobia.


While Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) falls on Nov. 1-2, students and Davis residents gathered at Central Park on Friday, Nov. 3 to celebrate the traditional Latino holiday. 

The event was hosted by the Davis Phoenix Coalition (DPC), YOLO Academy and other community groups. The gathering hosted several vendors as well as “ofrendas” (offerings left for deceased loved ones) decorated with marigolds. 

This year’s celebration also featured an ofrenda of transgender individuals who were killed for their identity. The ofrenda was inspired by the upcoming Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual observance honoring transgender people who died due to anti-trans violence. The observation falls on Nov. 20. 

“I’ve lost a lot of transgender friends and family to violence,” Sol Valdes, a member of the Davis Phoenix Coalition, said. “I have a transgender sibling that I love very dearly. So this holiday to me means celebrating the life of the people that have come into our lives and changed us for the better and showed us that gender can be a spectrum, to be yourself freely and fully and to celebrate the people we lost to that struggle.” 

Valdes has celebrated Día de los Muertos before, but this was the first time she celebrated it alongside Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The ofrenda was decorated with trans flags, marigolds made from paper and photos of more than 20 transgender people who lost their lives. One of the photos was of Sherlyn Marjorie, a Latina trans woman and drag performer. 

“Transgender Day of Remembrance is an annual observation on November 20 that honors the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence,” a note on the ofrenda read.

MariaIsabel Mandujano, a board member with Yolo County Communicare Health Centers, was tabling at the event and shared the importance of Día de los Muertos.

“This is so important because it’s a cultural event from Mexico and it’s very important to us to [celebrate the event with] this generation and future generations,” Mandujano said. 

Communicare Health Centers offers a grief support group for Spanish speakers every 2nd Thursday of the month from 5 to 6 p.m. The support center is located at 215 West Beamer St. in Woodland. 

“We support the Spanish speaking community when they struggle with mental health issues,” Mandujano said when describing the work Communicare does. 

Rather than being a day of mourning, Día de los Muertos is a day of celebration and honor. The bright orange marigold flowers that are placed on the altars are believed to help guide the souls of the deceased to the ofrendas prepared for them. 

The event was hosted across the street from the “Compassion Bench.” Marigolds and a framed photo were placed at the bench to honor the life of David Henry Breaux, also known as the “Compassion Guy.”  

Mandujano passed out pamphlets that explained the importance of altars and ofrendas on the holiday. 

“The altar is a mixture of ideas of our ancestors, who believe in the permanence of the bonds that kept the living with the deceased, who do not abandon this plane at all and live with the living,” Mandujano’s pamphlet read. “For the ancient indigenous peoples of Mexico, and to this day, death is life and transcendence that translates into rituals such as the offerings of the day of the dead.” 


Written By: Chris Ponce — city@theaggie.org


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