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Exploring the Traditions of Mexico's Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) - November 2, 2020


The Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated in Mexico and elsewhere associated to the Catholic celebrations of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. The multi-day holiday involves family and friends gathering to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died.

During Day of the Dead festivities, food is both eaten by living people and given to the spirits of their departed ancestors as ofrendas ('offerings'). Tamales are one of the most common dishes prepared for this day for both purposes.

People go to cemeteries to be with the souls of the departed and build private altars containing the favorite foods and beverages, as well as photos and memorabilia, of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them.

Calaveras: Those with a distinctive talent for writing sometimes create short poems, called calaveras literarias (skulls literature), mocking epitaphs of friends, describing interesting habits and attitudes or funny anecdotes.

Celebrations: Creation of altars to remember the dead, traditional dishes for the Day of the Dead

Significance: Prayer and remembrance of friends and family members who have died

Observed by: Mexico, and regions with large Mexican populations

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Day of the Dead

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