San Diego’s Celebrations of Flowers

by on March 2, 2023 · 0 comments

in Environment, History, Ocean Beach, San Diego

By Kathy Blavatt

What do the cultural celebrations of A Festa do Espirito Sano and Dia de los Muertos have in common that symbolize their ceremonies and come from nature? The answer for these events, and many other cultural ceremonies, are flowers.

Historically, these colorful live symbolic decorations from nature play essential roles in ceremonies that go back generations.

The recent annual Congress of History of San Diego and Imperial County (COH) conference highlighted the importance of community events that bind us together, which makes up the wonderful fabric of San Diego’s communities and landscapes.

At the February 2023 Congress Of History Conference, Nancy Carol Carter presented the Four Days of Pageantry: Groundbreaking for the 1915 Exposition.

Nancy’s program focused on the three years before the 1915 Panama Exposition at Balboa Park. Once again, plants were a significant priority in making the successful Exposition.

Up to 1912, the park was City Park. Kate Sessions, a botanist, horticulturist, and landscape designer, had negotiated a deal with the City San Diego to use some of the parklands for her nursery. In exchange, she propagated and planted hundreds of trees in the park and gave hundreds of trees to the City to grow throughout the communities.

Kate’s trees only filled part of the of the park. Many more large trees and a variety of plants were needed to show the diversity of what could be grown in San Diego.

Thanks to other nurseries and individuals, the park was filled with mature greenery that looked like it had been on the grounds for years. The richly planted and beautifully maintained exposition grounds won praise as a “Garden Fair.”

The park’s garden theme inspired many uses of flowers at the expose’s events and in displays. The extravagant downtown “Flower Parade” drew a massive crowd.

Roses were a popular choice of flowers at many of the ceremonies.

Since the 1913 Expo the park has been famous for its extraordinary landscape and lovely rose garden along Park Boulevard.

Evelyn Barandiaran from the Portuguese Historical Center gave an excellent presentation of Point Loma’s long-time celebrated annual A Festa do Espirito Sano Brings Together the Regiog’s Portuguese.

Elegant dresses, a Portugues e feast of traditional foods, and pageantry are all beautified with flowers.

The flowers are used in the celebrations are roses in various other flowers. Rose and petals are placed in altar displaces.

In the S.E.S Portuguese Hall kitchen, the traditional of rose petals being sprinkled at the feet of the Festivals Queen is carried out as the feast is being prepared.

Louise Torio program Dia de los Muertos in Sherman Heights: Community Coalescence via Cultureon, was about her community of Sherman Heights, a historic district with a fascinating history with a mix of ethnic groups throughout decades. The strong community Latin influence has developed a neighborhood event celebrating Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Residents display colorful altars of loved ones in their yards and at the Sherman Heights Community Center.

Vibrant flowers, real and manufactured, adorn altars. Various flowers are part of the Day of the Dead celebrations. Roses are a favorite, but Marigolds, also called cempasúchil, are the flower that is a national symbol for the Dia de los Muertos. The bright orange Marigolds decorate floral arches, garlands, wreaths, and crucifixes.

Lore has it that Marigolds’ bright coloring and potent fragrance attract the souls of the dead.

For over a century, San Diego has led the way in horticulture, which includes founding the California Garden Magazine, The San Diego Floral Association, and countless community gardening organizations. Flowers and plants are rooted in our heritage and celebrations.

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