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Day of the Dead

The Day of the Dead, or El Día de los Muertos in Spanish, is a Mexican and Mexican-American celebration of dead ancestors, which occurs on November 1 and November 2, the Roman Catholic All Saints Day and All Souls Day.

Celebrants wear wooden skull masks called calacas and dance in honor of their deceased relatives. The wooden skulls are also placed on altars that are dedicated to the dead. The altars are decorated with ofrendas, or offerings, which may include photographs, bread, other foods, flowers, toys and other symbolic offerings.

Sugar skulls, made with the names of the dead person on the forehead, are eaten by a relative or friend. People visit the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried and they decorate grave sites with marigold flowers and candles. They bring toys for dead children (los angelitos, or little angels) and bottles of tequila, mezcal, pulque or atole for adults. The celebrants sit on picnic blankets next to the graves and eat the favorite food of their loved ones.

Special food for El Día de los Muertos includes Pan de Muertos, or bread of the dead, a sweet egg bread, made in many shapes, from plain rounds to skulls and rabbits.

Despite its morbidness, this holiday is celebrated joyfully. Everything about this holiday is happy, even the skeletons and devils.

See also: Day of the Dead (movie)