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 Mexico's Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead Holiday)

Day of the Dead celebrations

Photo: Edward Ornellas

Dia de los Muertos - It sounds so mysterious, Mexico's celebration for when dead relatives, both young and old, are allowed to return to the mortal world for two days to visit loved ones. Spirits coming down and walking among the living, sampling earthly treats and joining in the festival ... it sounds like a merry version of our Halloween holiday.

But instead of scary goblins and blood curdling shrieks, the people in Mexico welcome the spirits of their families with the delicious smell of food in the air, tasty candies decorated like skulls, and lighted candles to guide them home again. Gravestones are decorated, and the whole family will gather in the graveyard to await and pay respects to the deceased.

Follow the links below to learn all about this unique Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos. For the truly adventurous there is information on how to arrange tours to the more colorful events in Mexico and to take part in the celebrations.

Day of the Dead celebrations - Michael Emery

Photo: Michael Emery
Dressed as a Calavera for the
Day of the Dead celebrations
Paper puppets are part of the Day of the Dead celebration
Paper puppets are part of the Day of the Dead celebration

Family members visit gravesites of loved ones
Family members visit
gravesites of loved ones

Glossary: Dia de los Muertos
The terms and items associated with the Day of the Dead.
Holiday Guide: Dia de los Muertos
Writer Marvin Perton shares the history and traditions of Dia de los Muertos, and where to find the best locations to participate or watch the real event.
Day of the Dead - Oaxaca Comes Alive!
The tradition is alive in well in southern Mexico. Learn how the holiday is celebrated in the southern state of Oaxaca, with photos from the area.
More on Oaxaca's Celebration of El Dia de Los Muertos
The Day of the Dead was once a very important religious holiday in Mexico. Over the years this holiday has been replaced by more commercial rituals such as those practiced on "Halloween" in the US. However traditional observances of Day of the Dead are still respected in southern Mexico, where indigenous customs and traditions are still very much alive.
Day of the Dead on the Border at Tecate
Photos of a visit to a border cemetery during the day.
Happy Day of the Dead!
Thomas Whittingslow shares the history and event that honors the deceased loved ones in Mexico each year.
A Day at El Panteon de Belen
The ghosts of Panteon de Belen, once a hospital cemetery, now a museum, walk the carefully manicured lawns...Story & photos by Hauquan Chau.
Pan de Muerto - Highlighted Mexican Food Recipe
Here we present the recipe for the traditional Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead).
Your Oaxacan Day of the Dead Altar
The Day of the Dead is an important family event, as such, the altar is usually set up in the biggest room in the house...Story and photos by Liz & Brian Parr
Calavera Catrina
Calavera Catrina
Jose Guadalupe Posada
Considered one of the founders of modern Mexican art. This artist's popular art prints depicting Calaveras (skeletons) offered graphic social commentary in the years leading up to and including the Revolution. Even today, the use of Calaveras in cartoons or "staged" Day of the Dead altars offers pointed public mockery of our human weaknesses with the ever present inevitablity of dead hovering in the background.

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