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What is Day of the Dead?

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Spanish CultureSpanish CultureSpanish Culture




Day of the Dead is a holiday in Mexico for honoring family and friends who have died.  It takes place November 1-2. It is believed that the souls of those who have died return to visit at this time each year. Children who have passed return the eve of Oct. 31, and the adult souls return on Nov. 1st.

Families set up an altar in their houses to honor the dead, often on a table, in their living room. They decorate it with pictures of those who have died along with flowers, candles, hand-made skeletons, colorful skulls made of sugar, clothing and toys of the dead, along with food such as fruits, nuts, drinks, and “pan dulce” (sweet bread).

On Nov. 2nd everyone goes to the cemetery to feast and say good-bye to the souls.  When they go to the cemetery they bring many of the same items that were placed on the altar, and they  have a feast.  Marigold flowers are a common type of flower.  It is believed that the strong smell of the flowers will help the souls find their graves after everyone has feasted and celebrated.

If you are ever in the Chicago area, you can visit the National Museum of Mexican Art where there is always a display of a Day of the Dead altar.


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