A Mexican holiday where traditionally families gather to decorate altars and celebrate their deceased loved ones, visiting their graves with food and gifts.
The Día de Muertos or Day of the Dead, is Mexico’s fascinating cultural celebration. Its origin is traced as far back as 3,000 years, to ancient Mesoamerican festivals. In 2008, UNESCO recognized the importance of Día de los Muertos by adding it to the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Celebration of the ‘Days of the Dead’ is from October 31st to November 2nd. It is believed that at midnight on the 31st, the spirits of lost children (angelitos) reunite with their living loved ones. On November 2nd, the spirits of lost adults make a visit. Families prepare by decorating elaborate ofrendas (altars) with offerings to the dead, like bright marigolds and finely crafted sugar skulls. Mexican families with picnic food, also spend time at the cemeteries, decorating the deceased loved ones’ graves with candles, flowers, and music.
Throughout Mexico the ‘Day of the Dead’ is celebrated in various ways. Some, set up colorful marketplaces with treats and trinkets; host sand tapestry competitions; have carnival-esque parades called comparsas. Some places start have a mock funeral procession to the cemetery, where a candlelight vigil lasts most of the night. From masks and costumes to face paint to ornately decorated candies piled on top of the altars as offerings to the dead, skulls (calaveras) and skeletons (calacas) are inescapable during the Day of the Dead festivities.