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Day of the Dead Customs and Traditions

Day of the Dead is the Mexican holiday celebrating the spirit of your deceased loved ones. Celebrations traditionally begin at midnight on October 31st and continue until November 2. While each town and region in Mexico has its own unique Day of the Dead customs, there are certain universal traditions that have developed over the centuries.


Elaborate home altars, called ofrenda's, are traditionally made to honor those departed spirits who have come back home for a brief visit. Food and personal memorabilia are left on the altar, and it is believed that the spirits will consume the essence and enjoy their aroma of the offerings. After the spirits have returned to the spirit world, family and friends will enjoy a feast of the altar foods.

Also traditionally left on the home altar is a sugar skull, which has the departed person's name inscribed on it. Marigolds, called cempasuchil in Spanish, are a seasonal flower, which grace the Day of the Dead altars. And pan de muertos is a special bread traditionally baked for the holiday.


In addition to building altars at one's home, many people traditionally visit cemeteries and decorate their family members' graves. Some villagers leave a path of flower petals between the cemetery and their homes, so their loved ones can find the way. In other towns, people spend the whole night at the cemetery, having a festive celebration that includes music, food and even alcohol.

The Connection to Halloween

Day of the Dead celebrations have continually changed and adapted throughout modern history, bridging a diversity of cultures and customs in Mexico and to the north, in the United States.

Celebrations for Day of the Dead are also becoming increasingly popular in America, especially in communities with large Hispanic populations. As these festivities have taken root, the influence of Halloween is growing -- not only in the U.S. but also back in Mexico. Mexican children now go trick-or-treating and dressing up in costumes has become a popular tradition.

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The History of Day of the Dead

Add Comment
george from Indiana, US
18:54 11/21/2011
es muy stupido personas y no ingles el dia de los muertos
Carolina from Texas, US
13:38 11/02/2011
for all you people, im from TEXAS, and i live in a town right next to the border of Mexico & the U.S. So yess!!! this is a Mexican/Hispanic holiday :) & SPANISH is the main language.
John Trico from Washington, US
07:38 10/27/2011
Dumbass!! It is not only a Mexican holiday! It is Hispanic! Ellos es muy estupidos!! Arriba Arriba!!
alex coop from Canada
15:09 05/09/2011
this is a very cool site
Samuel Savage from South Carolina, US
11:18 12/17/2010
This is a nice article. I think that you should put what language they speak on this day on though.
Cali from Connecticut, US
09:09 10/27/2010
Great webpage! I really need the author though for bibliography in Library at my School! I have a big project due on November 3rd and I need the author! Other than that GREAT article!
12:37 09/27/2010
09:28 05/07/2010
this helps thanks
tyler from Pennsylvania, US
13:40 02/07/2010
this really helped thnq
Katt from Missouri, US
10:40 01/14/2010
nice and thanx for the info !!

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