Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is an event that is celebrated in Mexico and in many communities throughout the United States on Nov. 1 and 2, honoring the dead using Aztec and European customs. The celebration is connected to the Catholic holy days of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, which fall on those days.
The dead are honored with hand-built altars.
In effort to explain the meaning of the event staff at Museum of History and Art in Ontario has held El Dia de Los Muertos Family Discovery Day for two decades.
The half-day event featured different activities throughout the museum, including, storytelling and Mexican paper cutting art of papel picado with Linda Smith.
Smith is carrying on the tradition that began with her mother, Olga Ponce-Furginson. At the station, attendees spent an average of about 20 minutes making their papel picado.
Often, the papel picado was made and hung in front of altars, gravesites. It's custom that pastel colors were used to remember children and brighter colors were used to celebrate adults.
And now her daughter, Anne, is helping out.
Anne, who is 20 and is studying to become an illustrator, actually helped redesign some of the patterns that attendees used this time around.
"I think it's great that I can continue on the tradition of papel picado. It's great to know that maybe I'm carrying it on and it's not forgotten," Anne said.
She says she still remembers when her grandmother would be working on her elaborate papel picado designs.
Taking in all the activities was Gloria G. Carbajal who had brought five of her grandchildren ranging in age from 13 years old to 5 years old. The group arrived at noon, when the doors opened, and were going around each craft station making their skull necklaces, papel picado and tissue flowers.
"I just want them to get the whole experience," she said.
The Chino resident said she recalls always celebrating the day with her parents and wanted to make sure she passed down the same traditions to her grandchildren. Carbajal herself has attended the annual event for numerous years but this was the first time she was able to bring her grandchildren along.
"I want them not to forget their heritage and to not forget their language," she said.
Carbajal said it is tradition to celebrate those who have passed on doesn't just end with the observance in November.
"My husband passed away in 2003 and we celebrate his birthday as if he was still alive," she said.
Attendees were also able to take in the exhibit, "Day of the Dead: A Celebration of Life" which featured the work of 23 artists from throughout the southern California region. The exhibit includes altar installations, as well as other works of art which looks at death. Artists share a common thread by tapping deeply into personal heritage to reflect beliefs in life beyond the grave.
The Dia de los Muertos exhibit will be on display at the museum until Saturday.
There was a new feature in the event. The city's museum collaborated with the city libraries, and Recreation and Community Services departments to present the first-ever "Day of the Dead" mask-making contest. Participants had a month to work on their skull mask. The contest was open to all ages. There were more than 100 entries but only 30 were selected to be displayed at the museum as past of the discovery day event.
Ontario resident Gizell Meza-Lorenza brought her daughter, Eva Lorenza, to the event in an effort to help her learn about other traditions.
"Where I come from in El Salvador, Dia de los Muertos is celebrated very differently," she said.
But Meza-Lorenza said she wanted to help her daughter get a better understanding of death and to learn not to be afraid of it, rather to celebrate those who have passed on.