What Exactly Is "The Day of the Dead"?



The Mexican Day of the Dead Celebration is a time of joyful remembrance of deceased loved ones, filled with an array of colors, scents, sounds and stories.


Centered around the Christian observance of All Saints and All Souls Days on November 1 and 2, the celebration includes images and ideas about the roles of ancestors in our lives, that trace back to Mexico’s indigenous peoples. 


Traditionally, people believe that this is the one time of the year when souls can return to earth for a day and commune with their families and friends.   Celebrations include the construction of an ofrenda or home altar to welcome the returning souls, who are honored with flowers, fruits, incense, photos, and their favorite food and drink.


Families will clean and refresh grave sites of loved ones and spend the night in a candle-lit vigil in the cemetery with the whole community. Hospitality and generosity among the living is a very important part of the holiday.  Neighbors and family visit one another, sharing stories, remembrances, and special foods associated with the holiday such as tamales, hot chocolate and a special bread called pan de muerto.

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