Angelenos celebrate first ‘Secular Day of the Dead’

By Aaron Schrank

The Day of the Dead holiday is rooted in Mexican indigenous tradition and closely tied to the Catholic Church’s All Souls’ Day, but one local celebration was explicitly religion-free.

About 50 people turned out Thursday for Los Angeles’ first “Secular Day of the Dead” at La Fonda Mexican restaurant in Koreatown.

“Remembering our deceased loved ones is not the sole territory of religions, and it’s part of who we are as a species,” said Christine Jones, with Atheists United, who helped organized the event. “We all need to feel like we can remember the people that we love.”

Jones is Latina and was raised Catholic by her Mexican-American mother. Now an atheist, she wanted an event where the growing number of Hispanics who don’t believe in God could celebrate an important cultural holiday without prayer or religious dogma.

“For me, this is a way to re-embrace a tradition I belong to,” Jones said.

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