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The Day Of The Dead Essay

Mexico's Day of the Dead - resource page by Index Page © 2011

November 1, All Saints Day, and November 2, All Souls Day are marked throughout Mexico by intriguing customs that vary widely according to the ethnic roots of each region. Common to all, however, are colorful adornments and lively reunions at family burial plots, the preparation of special foods, offerings laid out for the departed on commemorative altars and religious rites that are likely to include noisy fireworks.

In most localities November 1 is set aside for remembrance of deceased infants and children, often referred to as angelitos (little angels). Those who have died as adults are honored November 2.

These stories are descriptive

A young and smiling calavera

Readers share their personal experiences

Artistic manifestations of the Dia de los Muertos

© David McLaughlin, 1997

Original short stories

Book reviews

Your own celebration

Picture galleries: Day of the Dead in photographs

Published or Updated on: May 10, 2011 by Index Page © 2009
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            During the days of the dead, the family often takes the opportunity to visit the gravesite and pull weeds, clean any debris and decorate the graves of loved ones.  Often candles, flowers and the favorite foods of the deceased are placed on the grave and the family visits, eats, sings and tells favorite stories about those who have passed. 

            In the United States or for those for whom visiting the gravesite is not viable, (often graveyards are closed during the evening hours) the tradition has been adapted.  Many set up altars in their homes and often communities host a variety of events. In Albuquerque’s south valley the Marigold parade and celebration at the West Side Community Center is one such event. Altars are usually decorated with flowers, candles, pan de muerto, ceramic skulls, and most importantly pictures of loved ones. 

            Food placed on the altar consists of the loved ones favorite dishes and treats.  Drinks should be placed in the altar to quench the thirst of the dead after their long journey back home.  In many villages it is customary to offer alcoholic beverages.  Salt is considered the spice of life and is one the staples that are often left at the altar.  The scents of marigolds as well as burning copal (a resin of the copal tree) are thought to be most beloved by the spirits of the dead and invite them back home. 

The rituals used to celebrate the day are varied and colorful.  Yet, all carry the same message, celebrating the day of the dead is a true celebration of life.


 For more on the Day of the Dead:


 A Beginning History of the Day of the Dead, Article by Helen Tafoya-Barraza



 AZCentral.com – the Day of the Dead



 Why Do Mexicans Celebrate the Day of the Dead? An article by Ricardo J. Salvador



 The Day of the Dead, An article by May Herz, including information on how to obtain an educational video K-12.  http://www.inside-mexico.com/featuredead.htm


There are many, many online resources about the Day of the Dead.  Try using your favorite internet search engine

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