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Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is a holiday in Mexico and other parts of Latin America, and is also celebrated by Latinx communities in the United States.  Day of the Dead is aimed at demonstrating love and respect for deceased loved ones.  The festivities take place November 1st and 2nd.  November 1st honors children, while November 2nd honors adults.1

While the theme is centered on death, the festivities include makeup, costumes, and parades, parties with singing and dancing, and offerings to deceased family members.2

Day of the Dead originated with Aztec, Toltec, and other Nahua people who believed that the dead should not be mourned but rather kept alive through memories, since death was a natural progression of life.  The dead were believed to temporarily return to Earth on Dia de los Muertos.

The altars or ofrendas seen during these celebrations are meant as a welcome banners for spirits to rejoin the living. The altars to the dead also include a loved one’s favorite food. Spirits are believed to consume the aroma of the foods left for them on the altars.3 Following the spirit’s departure the living then consume the food.

Celebrations also include poems poking fun at the living.  Costumes and skull face paintings are also a big part of the holiday.4 There are also dances, like the dance of the little old men or La Danza de los Viejitos, wherein young men and children dressed as old men begin the dance hunched over and abruptly break into an energetic dance.5

Family is a big part of Mexican culture and Dia de los Muertos celebrations show how familial bonds are kept alive even after death.