Day of the Dead

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Day of the Dead
Día de Muertos altar commemorating a deceased man in Milpa Alta, México DF
Observed by Mexico, and regions with large Mexican populations
Syncretic Christian
SignificancePrayer and remembrance of friends and family members who have died
CelebrationsCreation of altars to remember the dead, traditional dishes for the Day of the Dead
BeginsOctober 31
EndsNovember 2
Date November 2
Next time2 November 2019 (2019-11-02)
Related to All Saints' Day

The Day of the Dead (Spanish : Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular the Central and South regions, and by people of Mexican heritage elsewhere. The multi-day holiday involves family and friends gathering to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and helping support their spiritual journey. In Mexican culture, death is viewed as a natural part of the human cycle. Mexicans view it not as a day of sadness but as a day of celebration because their loved ones awake and celebrate with them. [1] In 2008, the tradition was inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. [2]

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish or Castilian is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

UNESCO Specialised agency of the United Nations

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris. Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter. It is the successor of the League of Nations' International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation.


The holiday is sometimes called Día de los Muertos [3] [4] in Anglophone countries, a back-translation of its original name, Día de Muertos. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico where the day is a public holiday. Prior to Spanish colonization in the 16th century, the celebration took place at the beginning of summer. Gradually, it was associated with October 31, November 1, and November 2 to coincide with the Western Christian triduum of Allhallowtide: All Saints' Eve, All Saints' Day, and All Souls' Day. [5] [6] Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas , honoring the deceased using calaveras, aztec marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. [7] Visitors also leave possessions of the deceased at the graves.

English-speaking world Countries and regions where English is everyday language and people (or peoples) who speak English

Over 2 billion people speak English. English is the largest language by number of speakers, and the third largest language by number of native speakers. With 300 million native speakers, the United States of America is the largest English speaking country. As pictured in the pie graph below, most native speakers of English are Americans.

A public holiday, national holiday or legal holiday is a holiday generally established by law and is usually a non-working day during the year.

A triduum is a religious observance lasting three days.

Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. It has become a national symbol and as such is taught (for educational purposes) in the nation's schools. Many families celebrate a traditional "All Saints' Day" associated with the Catholic Church.

Festival Organised series of acts and performances

A festival is an event ordinarily celebrated by a community and centering on some characteristic aspect of that community and its religion or cultures. It is often marked as a local or national holiday, mela, or eid. Next to religion and folklore, a significant origin is agricultural. Food is such a vital resource that many festivals are associated with harvest time. Religious commemoration and thanksgiving for good harvests are blended in events that take place in autumn, such as Halloween in the northern hemisphere and Easter in the southern.

Goddess feminine or female deity

A goddess is a female deity. Goddesses have been linked with virtues such as beauty, love, motherhood and fertility. They have also been associated with ideas such as war, creation, and death.

All Saints Day Christian feast day

All Saints' Day, also known as All Hallows' Day, Hallowmas, the Feast of All Saints, or Solemnity of All Saints, is a Christian festival celebrated in honour of all the saints, known and unknown. In Western Christianity, it is celebrated on 1 November by the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Methodist Church, the Church of the Nazarene, the Lutheran Church, the Reformed Church, and other Protestant churches. The Eastern Orthodox Church and associated Eastern Catholic Churches and Byzantine Lutheran Churches celebrate it on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Oriental Orthodox churches of Chaldea and associated Eastern Catholic churches celebrate All Saints' Day on the first Friday after Easter.

Originally, the Day of the Dead as such was not celebrated in northern Mexico, where it was unknown until the 20th century because its indigenous people had different traditions. The people and the church rejected it as a day related to syncretizing pagan elements with Catholic Christianity. They held the traditional 'All Saints' Day' in the same way as other Christians in the world. There was limited Mesoamerican influence in this region, and relatively few indigenous inhabitants from the regions of Southern Mexico, where the holiday was celebrated. In the early 21st century in northern Mexico, Día de Muertos is observed because the Mexican government made it a national holiday based on educational policies from the 1960s; it has introduced this holiday as a unifying national tradition based on indigenous traditions. [8] [9] [10]

Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs, while blending practices of various schools of thought. Syncretism involves the merging or assimilation of several originally discrete traditions, especially in the theology and mythology of religion, thus asserting an underlying unity and allowing for an inclusive approach to other faiths. Syncretism also occurs commonly in expressions of arts and culture as well as politics.

Observance in Mexico


Woman lighting copal incense at the cemetery during the "Alumbrada" vigil in San Andres Mixquic Mixquic Magico 17.jpg
Woman lighting copal incense at the cemetery during the "Alumbrada" vigil in San Andrés Mixquic
Day of the Dead altars in Metepec Calvario de Metepec.jpg
Day of the Dead altars in Metepec

The Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico developed from ancient traditions among its pre-Columbian cultures. Rituals celebrating the deaths of ancestors had been observed by these civilizations perhaps for as long as 2,500–3,000 years. [11] The festival that developed into the modern Day of the Dead fell in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, about the beginning of August, and was celebrated for an entire month. The festivities were dedicated to the goddess [12] known as the "Lady of the Dead", corresponding to the modern La Calavera Catrina.

Mexico Country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the tenth most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.

Aztec calendar calendar

The Aztec or Mexica calendar is the calendar system that was used by the Aztecs as well as other Pre-Columbian peoples of central Mexico. It is one of the Mesoamerican calendars, sharing the basic structure of calendars from throughout ancient Mesoamerica.

<i>La Calavera Catrina</i> 1910–1913 zinc etching

La Calavera Catrina or CatrinaLa Calavera Garbancera is a 1910–1913 zinc etching by the Mexican printmaker, cartoon illustrator and lithographer José Guadalupe Posada. She is offered as a satirical portrait of those Mexican natives who, Posada felt, were aspiring to adopt European aristocratic traditions in the pre-revolution era. La Catrina has become an icon of the Mexican Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

By the late 20th century in most regions of Mexico, practices had developed to honor dead children and infants on November 1, and to honor deceased adults on November 2. November 1 is generally referred to as Día de los Inocentes ("Day of the Innocents") but also as Día de los Angelitos ("Day of the Little Angels"); November 2 is referred to as Día de los Muertos or Día de los Difuntos ("Day of the Dead"). [13]

In the 2015 James Bond film, Spectre , the opening sequence features a Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City. At the time, no such parade took place in Mexico City; one year later, due to the interest in the film and the government desire to promote the pre-Hispanic Mexican culture, the federal and local authorities decided to organize an actual "Día de Muertos" parade through Paseo de la Reforma and Centro Historico on October 29, 2016, which was attended by 250,000 people. [14] [15] [16]


Frances Ann Day summarizes the three-day celebration, the Day of the Dead:

Altars (ofrendas)

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. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed. [13]

Mexican cempasúchil (marigold) is the traditional flower used to honor the dead.
Catrina 3.jpg
Cempasúchil, alfeñiques and papel picado used to decorate an altar

Plans for the day are made throughout the year, including gathering the goods to be offered to the dead. During the three-day period families usually clean and decorate graves; [12] most visit the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried and decorate their graves with ofrendas (altars), which often include orange Mexican marigolds ( Tagetes erecta ) called cempasúchil (originally named cempoaxochitl, Nāhuatl for "twenty flowers"). In modern Mexico the marigold is sometimes called Flor de Muerto (Flower of Dead). These flowers are thought to attract souls of the dead to the offerings. It is also believed the bright petals with a strong scent can guide the souls from cemeteries to their family homes. [17] [18]

Toys are brought for dead children (los angelitos, or "the little angels"), and bottles of tequila, mezcal or pulque or jars of atole for adults. Families will also offer trinkets or the deceased's favorite candies on the grave. Some families have ofrendas in homes, usually with foods such as candied pumpkin, pan de muerto ("bread of dead"), and sugar skulls; and beverages such as atole. The ofrendas are left out in the homes as a welcoming gesture for the deceased. [12] [18] Some people believe the spirits of the dead eat the "spiritual essence" of the ofrendas food, so though the celebrators eat the food after the festivities, they believe it lacks nutritional value. Pillows and blankets are left out so the deceased can rest after their long journey. In some parts of Mexico, such as the towns of Mixquic, Pátzcuaro and Janitzio, people spend all night beside the graves of their relatives. In many places, people have picnics at the grave site, as well.

Families tidying and decorating graves at a cemetery in Almoloya del Rio in the State of Mexico, 1995 CemetarioAlmoloyaRio1995.jpg
Families tidying and decorating graves at a cemetery in Almoloya del Río in the State of Mexico, 1995

Some families build altars or small shrines in their homes; [12] these sometimes feature a Christian cross, statues or pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary, pictures of deceased relatives and other people, scores of candles, and an ofrenda. Traditionally, families spend some time around the altar, praying and telling anecdotes about the deceased. In some locations, celebrants wear shells on their clothing, so when they dance, the noise will wake up the dead; some will also dress up as the deceased .


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"). [19] Tamales are one of the most common dishes prepared for this day for both purposes. [20]

Pan de muerto and calaveras are associated specifically with Day of the Dead. Pan de muerto is a type of sweet roll shaped like a bun, topped with sugar, and often decorated with bone-shaped phalanges pieces. [21] Calaveras, or sugar skulls, display colorful designs to represent the vitality and individual personality of the departed. [20]

In addition to food, drink is also important to the tradition of Day of the Dead. Historically, the main alcoholic drink was pulque while today families will commonly drink the favorite beverage of their deceased ancestors. [20] Other drinks associated with the holiday are atole and champurrado, warm, thick, non-alcoholic masa drinks.

Jamaican iced tea is a popular herbal tea made of the flowers and leaves of the Jamaican hibiscus plant ( Hibiscus sabdariffa ), known as flor de Jamaica in Mexico. It is served cold and quite sweet with a lot of ice. The ruby-red beverage is called hibiscus tea in English-speaking countries and called agua de Jamaica (water of Jamaica) in Spanish. [22]


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. [23] This custom originated in the 18th or 19th century after a newspaper published a poem narrating a dream of a cemetery in the future, "and all of us were dead", proceeding to read the tombstones. Newspapers dedicate calaveras to public figures, with cartoons of skeletons in the style of the famous calaveras of José Guadalupe Posada, a Mexican illustrator. [24] Theatrical presentations of Don Juan Tenorio by José Zorrilla (1817–1893) are also traditional on this day.

Modern representations of La Catrina Catrinas 2.jpg
Modern representations of La Catrina

Posada created what might be his most famous print, he called the print La Calavera Catrina ("The Elegant Skull") as a parody of a Mexican upper-class female. Posada's intent with the image was to ridicule the others that would claim the cultural of the Europeans over the culture of the indigenous people. The image was a skeleton with a big floppy hat that decorated with 2 big feathers and multiple flowers on the hop of the hat. Posada's striking image of a costumed female with a skeleton face has become associated with the Day of the Dead, and Catrina figures often are a prominent part of modern Day of the Dead observances. [24]

A common symbol of the holiday is the skull (in Spanish calavera ), which celebrants represent in masks, called calacas (colloquial term for skeleton), and foods such as sugar or chocolate skulls, which are inscribed with the name of the recipient on the forehead. Sugar skulls can be given as gifts to both the living and the dead. [24] Other holiday foods include pan de muerto, a sweet egg bread made in various shapes from plain rounds to skulls, often decorated with white frosting to look like twisted bones. [18]

Local traditions

The traditions and activities that take place in celebration of the Day of the Dead are not universal, often varying from town to town. For example, in the town of Pátzcuaro on the Lago de Pátzcuaro in Michoacán, the tradition is very different if the deceased is a child rather than an adult. On November 1 of the year after a child's death, the godparents set a table in the parents' home with sweets, fruits, pan de muerto, a cross, a rosary (used to ask the Virgin Mary to pray for them) and candles. This is meant to celebrate the child's life, in respect and appreciation for the parents. There is also dancing with colorful costumes, often with skull-shaped masks and devil masks in the plaza or garden of the town. At midnight on November 2, the people light candles and ride winged boats called mariposas (butterflies) to Janitzio, an island in the middle of the lake where there is a cemetery, to honor and celebrate the lives of the dead there.

In contrast, the town of Ocotepec, north of Cuernavaca in the State of Morelos, opens its doors to visitors in exchange for veladoras (small wax candles) to show respect for the recently deceased. In return the visitors receive tamales and atole. This is done only by the owners of the house where someone in the household has died in the previous year. Many people of the surrounding areas arrive early to eat for free and enjoy the elaborate altars set up to receive the visitors.

In some parts of the country (especially the cities, where in recent years other customs have been displaced) children in costumes roam the streets, knocking on people's doors for a calaverita, a small gift of candies or money; they also ask passersby for it. This relatively recent custom is similar to that of Halloween's trick-or-treating in the United States. Another peculiar tradition involving kids is La Danza de los Viejitos (the dance of the old men) when boy and young men dressed as granpas crouch and then jump in an energetic dance. [25]

Day of the Dead protest related to the forced kidnapping of 43 students in Iguala Dia Muertos027.jpg
Day of the Dead protest related to the forced kidnapping of 43 students in Iguala

Observances outside Mexico



In Belize, Day of the Dead is practiced by people of the Yucatec Maya ethnicity. The celebration is known as Hanal Pixan which means "food for the souls" in their language. Altars are constructed and decorated with food, drinks, candies, and candles put on them.


Día de las Ñatitas ("Day of the Skulls") is a festival celebrated in La Paz, Bolivia, on May 5. In pre-Columbian times indigenous Andeans had a tradition of sharing a day with the bones of their ancestors on the third year after burial. Today families keep only the skulls for such rituals. Traditionally, the skulls of family members are kept at home to watch over the family and protect them during the year. On November 9, the family crowns the skulls with fresh flowers, sometimes also dressing them in various garments, and making offerings of cigarettes, coca leaves, alcohol, and various other items in thanks for the year's protection. The skulls are also sometimes taken to the central cemetery in La Paz for a special Mass and blessing. [26] [27] [28]


The Brazilian public holiday of Finados (Day of the Dead) is celebrated on November 2. Similar to other Day of the Dead celebrations, people go to cemeteries and churches with flowers and candles and offer prayers. The celebration is intended as a positive honoring of the dead. Memorializing the dead draws from indigenous, African and European Catholic origins.


Guatemalan celebrations of the Day of the Dead, on November 1, are highlighted by the construction and flying of giant kites [29] . The Guatemalan people fly kites in beliefs that the kites help the spirits find there way back to Earth. A few kites have notes for the dead attached to the strings of the kites. The kites are used as a kind of telecommunication to heaven. [24] A big event also is the consumption of fiambre , which is made only for this day during the year. [24] In addition to the traditional visits to grave sites of ancestors, the tombs and graves are decorated with flowers, candles, and food for the dead. In a few towns the Guatemalans repair and repaint the cemetery with colorful colors to bring the cemetery to life. They fix things that have got damaged over the years or just simply need a touch up such as wooden grave cross markers. They also lay flower wreaths on the graves. Some families have picnics in the cemetery. [24]


In Ecuador the Day of the Dead is observed to some extent by all parts of society, though it is especially important to the indigenous Kichwa peoples, who make up an estimated quarter of the population. Indigena families gather together in the community cemetery with offerings of food for a day-long remembrance of their ancestors and lost loved ones. Ceremonial foods include colada morada , a spiced fruit porridge that derives its deep purple color from the Andean blackberry and purple maize. This is typically consumed with guagua de pan , a bread shaped like a swaddled infant, though variations include many pigs—the latter being traditional to the city of Loja. The bread, which is wheat flour-based today, but was made with masa in the pre-Columbian era, can be made savory with cheese inside or sweet with a filling of guava paste. These traditions have permeated mainstream society, as well, where food establishments add both colada morada and gaugua de pan to their menus for the season. Many non-indigenous Ecuadorians visit the graves of the deceased, cleaning and bringing flowers, or preparing the traditional foods, too. [30]


Usually people visit the cemetery and bring flowers to decorate the graves of dead relatives. Sometimes people play music at the cemetery. [31]

United States

An anima for the dead Flower of the Dead anima (memorial).jpg
An ánima for the dead
Women with calaveras makeup celebrating Dia de Muertos in the Mission District of San Francisco, California Dia de los Muertos Celebration in Mission District of San Francisco, CA.jpg
Women with calaveras makeup celebrating Día de Muertos in the Mission District of San Francisco, California

In many American communities with Mexican residents, Day of the Dead celebrations are very similar to those held in Mexico. In some of these communities, in states such as Texas, [32] New Mexico, [33] and Arizona, [34] the celebrations tend to be mostly traditional. The All Souls Procession has been an annual Tucson, Arizona event since 1990. The event combines elements of traditional Day of the Dead celebrations with those of pagan harvest festivals. People wearing masks carry signs honoring the dead and an urn in which people can place slips of paper with prayers on them to be burned. [35] Likewise, Old Town San Diego, California annually hosts a traditional two-day celebration culminating in a candlelight procession to the historic El Campo Santo Cemetery. [36]

The festival also is held annually at historic Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood. Sponsored by Forest Hills Educational Trust and the folkloric performance group La Piñata, the Day of the Dead festivities celebrate the cycle of life and death. People bring offerings of flowers, photos, mementos, and food for their departed loved ones, which they place at an elaborately and colorfully decorated altar. A program of traditional music and dance also accompanies the community event.

The Smithsonian Institution, in collaboration with the University of Texas at El Paso and Second Life, have created a Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum and accompanying multimedia e-book: Día de los Muertos: Day of the Dead. The project's website contains some of the text and images which explain the origins of some of the customary core practices related to the Day of the Dead, such as the background beliefs and the offrenda (the special altar commemorating one's deceased loved one). [37] The Made For iTunes multimedia e-book version provides additional content, such as further details; additional photo galleries; pop-up profiles of influential Latino artists and cultural figures over the decades; and video clips [38] of interviews with artists who make Día de Muertos-themed artwork, explanations and performances of Aztec and other traditional dances, an animation short that explains the customs to children, virtual poetry readings in English and Spanish. [39] [40]

Corazon del Pueblo in Fruitvale, Oakland, California, 2016 Corazon del Pueblo in Fruitvale, Oakland, CA, US, 2016.jpg
Corazon del Pueblo in Fruitvale, Oakland, California, 2016

Santa Ana, California is said to hold the "largest event in Southern California" honoring Día de Muertos, called the annual Noche de Altares, which began in 2002. [41] The celebration of the Day of the Dead in Santa Ana has grown to two large events with the creation of an event held at the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center for the first time on November 1, 2015. [42]

In other communities, interactions between Mexican traditions and American culture are resulting in celebrations in which Mexican traditions are being extended to make artistic or sometimes political statements. For example, in Los Angeles, California, the Self Help Graphics & Art Mexican-American cultural center presents an annual Day of the Dead celebration that includes both traditional and political elements, such as altars to honor the victims of the Iraq War, highlighting the high casualty rate among Latino soldiers. An updated, intercultural version of the Day of the Dead is also evolving at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. [43] There, in a mixture of Native Californian art, Mexican traditions and Hollywood hip, conventional altars are set up side-by-side with altars to Jayne Mansfield and Johnny Ramone. Colorful native dancers and music intermix with performance artists, while sly pranksters play on traditional themes.

Similar traditional and intercultural updating of Mexican celebrations are held in San Francisco. For example, the Galería de la Raza, SomArts Cultural Center, Mission Cultural Center, de Young Museum and altars at Garfield Square by the Marigold Project. [44] Oakland is home to Corazon Del Pueblo in the Fruitvale district. Corazon Del Pueblo has a shop offering handcrafted Mexican gifts and a museum devoted to Day of the Dead artifacts. Also, the Fruitvale district in Oakland serves as the hub of the Día de Muertos annual festival which occurs the last weekend of October. Here, a mix of several Mexican traditions come together with traditional Aztec dancers, regional Mexican music, and other Mexican artisans to celebrate the day. [45]


As part of a promotion by the Mexican embassy in Prague, Czech Republic, since the late 20th century, some local citizens join in a Mexican-style Day of the Dead. A theatre group produces events featuring masks, candles, and sugar skulls. [46]

Asia and Oceania

Mexican-style Day of the Dead celebrations occur in major cities in Australia, Fiji, and Indonesia. Additionally, prominent celebrations are held in Wellington, New Zealand, complete with altars celebrating the deceased with flowers and gifts. [47] In the Philippines "Undás", "Araw ng mga Yumao" (Tagalog, Day of those who have died), coincides with the Roman Catholic's celebration of All Saint's Day and continues on to the following day of All Soul's Day. Filipinos traditionally observe this day by visiting the family dead to clean and repair their tombs. Offerings of prayers, flowers, candles, [48] and even food, while Chinese Filipinos additionally burn joss sticks and kim . Many also spend the day and ensuing night holding reunions at the cemetery, having feasts and merriment.

See also

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Festival of the Dead or Feast of Ancestors is held by many cultures throughout the world in honor or recognition of deceased members of the community, generally occurring after the harvest in August, September, October, or November. As an example, the Ancient Egyptian Wag Festival took place in early August.

Huaquechula City in Puebla, Mexico

Huaquechula is a town in Huaquechula Municipality located in state of Puebla in central Mexico. The settlement dates back at least as far as 1110 CE although its center has moved to twice to its current location. Since its founding, it has been an agricultural community, today raising crops such as peanuts, corn and sorghum, although there are some handcrafts as well. The town is known for its traditions related to the Feast of the Cross, but even more so for its “cabo del año” altars on Day of the Dead, which are dedicated to family members who have died during the previous year. These have been declared a cultural heritage of the state of Puebla and bring tourists to the town, mostly from Puebla.

Herminia Albarrán Romero American artist

Herminia Albarrán Romero is a Mexican-American artist known for her papel picado and altar-making. She received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2005, which is the United States' highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.

Ghosts in Mexican culture

There is an extensive and varied belief in ghosts in Mexican culture. The modern state of Mexico is inhabited by peoples such as the Maya and Aztec. Their beliefs in a supernatural world has survived and evolved, combined with the Catholic beliefs of the Spanish conquest. The Day of the Dead incorporates pre-Columbian beliefs with Christian elements. Mexican literature and movies include many stories of ghosts interacting with the living.

Sawdust carpet

Sawdust carpets are one or more layers of colored sawdust, and sometimes other additional materials, laid on the ground as decoration. Sawdust carpets are traditionally created to greet a religious procession that walks over them. The tradition of decorating streets in this fashion began in Europe and was brought to the Americas by the Spanish. The tradition is still found in Mexico, Central America, parts of South America and parts of the United States, but it is strongest in Mexico and Central America.

Pan dulce

Pan dulce is the name for a variety of Mexican pastries. The creation of sweet bread was influenced by the French and Spaniards, who introduced baked goods such as crispy rolls, baguettes, and sweet pastries to Mexico. This inspired the indigenous peoples to create different types of panes dulces such as besos, conchas, and cuernos, among others. The bread is considered to be one of Mexico's most inexpensive treats and is consumed daily as breakfast or late supper, known as merienda.


An ofrenda is a collection of objects placed on a ritual display during the annual and traditionally Mexican Día de Muertos celebration. An ofrenda, which may be quite large and elaborate, is usually created for an individual person who has died and is intended to welcome them to the altar setting

All Souls Weekend

All Souls Weekend is an event in Tucson, Arizona. It draws on Mesoamerican, Spanish Roman Catholic, and Mexican rituals, incorporating many diverse cultural traditions with the common goal of honoring and remembering the deceased.



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Further reading