Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead, also know as El Dia de los Muertos has been around for thousands of years, celebrated in many Latin American countries but nowhere to the extent it is in Mexico. It's a joyous and celebratory time, a time to welcome the souls of the dead to join their family and friends for a short time. Rather than being sad, it's a celebration of life!
Departed children (los angelitos) are remembered on 1 November, and adults on 2 November. To prepare for the arrival of the dead, special altars known as ofrendas are constructed. These are decorated with flowers (predominantly yellow marigolds), offerings of food such as special day of the dead bread, beautifully decorated candlesticks, miniature skeleton figures and paper cutouts (papel picado). Families and friends also gather in their local graveyard and decorate the graves of their dearly departed with flowers, candles and offerings of their favorite food. They stay in the graveyard all night, chatting among themselves while the children play.
Close by in town the celebrations continue, with live music and people dressed as skeletons and in bright clothing, the women with flowers in their hair, parading through the streets and dancing all night.
Day of the Dead isn't sad and somber, or scary like Halloween. It's a celebration of life, about showing love and respect for one's family and friends. It's about people coming together over death and celebrating and looking at the lighter side of death. It's not to be feared.