Day of the Dead History

The Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday that celebrates the lives of deceased loved ones. The holiday is observed on October 31st – November 2nd, and traditionally involves decorating gravesites with colorful Calaveras (skulls) and marigolds, painting faces and decorating with sugar skulls, and holding festive celebrations complete with food, music, and dancing.

One of the most important aspects of the Día de Los Muertos is honoring ancestors. Families typically gather at gravesites to clean and decorate them, and to offer prayers, food, and conversation. They may also leave offerings such as candles, flowers, or photos of the deceased. In some parts of Mexico, people build private altars in their homes to honor specific relatives who have passed away.

The Day of the Dead is a time for remembering those who have died, but it is also a joyful celebration full of life. Families come together to enjoy each other’s company, share memories of loved ones, eat traditional foods, and dance in honor of those who have passed. It is a time to celebrate the lives that have been lived and to look forward to the lives that still lie ahead.

The roots of Día de Los Muertos can be traced back to an ancient Aztec festival celebrated in the Aztec month of Miccailhuitontli. This festival honored the dead and celebrated the cycle of life. After the Spanish Conquest in the 16th century, elements of the Miccailhuitontli celebration were combined with Catholic traditions of All Saints Day and All Souls Day to create what we now call Día de Los Muertos.

Day of the Dead Festivities

Day of the Dead Food

day of the dead food, sugar skulls, pan de muerta, skull with roses

Food is one of the most important aspects of the Día de Los Muertos celebration. Traditional foods include:

Pan de Muerto (bread of the dead) – a sweetened bread in the shape of a skull or bones, decorated with sugar

Calaveras (sugar skulls) – these are made from sugar or candy and often have the name of the person they represent written on them

Candied pumpkin – this is a popular treat that is made by coating slices of pumpkin with cinnamon and sugar

Mole – a rich, spicy sauce that is traditionally served over chicken or turkey

Other traditional foods include tamales, atole (a hot drink made with corn), and champurrado (chocolate-based atole).

Day of the Dead Altars

Another important part of the Day of the Dead celebration is the creation of altars. These are usually set up in homes or cemeteries and are decorated with pictures of the deceased, candles, flowers, and food. The altars are meant to honor the dead and help guide them from the spirit world back to the world of the living to visit their family members.

Day of the Dead Celebrations Around the World

Día de Los Muertos is celebrated in Mexico and other parts of Latin America, as well as in many Hispanic communities around the world. In recent years, the holiday has become more popular in the United States, with celebrations taking place in cities such as Los Angeles, New York, and San Antonio.

United States

In the United States, the Day of the Dead is often celebrated with public processions and parades. Many of these celebrations take place in California and Texas, where there is a large Hispanic population and Mexican heritage along with influence from the rest of Latin America still has a large role in pop culture. One of the most well-known Days of the Dead celebrations in the United States is the Hollywood Forever Cemetery Dia de Los Muertos celebration. There is also a big celebration true to Mexican tradition in San Antonio with events all through The Alamo City.


people in costumes in day of the dead parade

In Mexico, the Día de Los Muertos is a national holiday. It is celebrated throughout the country, with each region having its traditions and activities. Día de Los Muertos is a huge part of Mexican culture and heritage with Mexico City having one of the largest celebrations including its extravagant Day of the Dead Parade.


flying giant kites at Festival de Barriletes Gigantes

Each year on November 1, people in many countries around the world celebrate Día de Los Muertos, a holiday dedicated to honoring the dead. In Mexico and other Latin American countries, one of the most popular traditions is flying giant kites above cemeteries. These kites are often intricately designed and brightly colored, and they can be quite large.

The tradition of flying kites on Día de Los Muertos called Festival de Barriletes Gigantes takes place in the town of Sumpango, Guatemala. Every year, the townspeople gather to fly kites above the cemetery as a way to communicate with their deceased loved ones and to help the lost loved ones on their journey back to the living. The kites would carry messages written on paper to the spirits of the dead, who were thought to be able to read them.

Today, the tradition of flying kites on the Day of the Dead has spread to other parts of Guatemala and Mexico, and other countries worldwide. Kite festivals are now held annually in many places, and people of all ages participate.


Many cultures around the world have unique ways of commemorating their dead. One such culture is the Aymara people of Bolivia. For the Aymara, the Day of the Dead is a time to remember and celebrate their loved ones who have passed away. On November 8th, they take their loved ones’ skulls to the cemetery and celebrate with food, drink, and music.

This tradition has its origins in an ancient belief that the dead can visit the living on this day. The Aymara believe that by celebrating with their loved ones’ skulls, they are ensuring that their spirits will return to them.

The Day of the Dead is also a time for the Aymara to reflect on their mortality. By honoring their dead, they are reminded that death is a natural part of life and that they too will one day pass on.


No matter where it is celebrated, the Day of the Dead is a time to remember and honor loved ones who have passed away. Through traditional activities such as flying kites, decorating altars, and eating special foods, people around the world keep the memories of their deceased alive. And in doing so, they also celebrate life itself.


What is Day of the Dead and why is it celebrated?

Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos) is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and other Latin American countries. It is dedicated to honoring the dead and has many traditional activities, such as flying kites and eating special foods.

How did the Day of the Dead become a thing?

The Day of the Dead originated from an ancient Aztec festival called Miccailhuitl. This festival was held each year to celebrate the return of the spirits of the dead. After Spanish colonization, the tradition was combined with Catholic celebrations of All Saints Day and All Souls Day to create the modern-day Day of the Dead.

What are some Day of the Dead traditions?

Some Day of the Dead traditions include flying kites, decorating altars, and eating special foods. These activities are meant to honor the dead and keep their memories alive.

What events take place during the Day of the Dead?

There are many different Day of the Dead celebrations taking place all over the world. Some of the most popular events include the Day of the Dead Parade in Mexico City and the flying of giant kites in Guatemala.

When did the Aztecs celebrate the Day of the Dead?

Over 3000 years ago the Aztecs and Mayans had festivals to celebrate their dead. The Aztec people celebrated with a festival called Miccailhuitl.

How can I celebrate the Day of the Dead?

You can celebrate the Day of the Dead by participating in traditional activities such as decorating an altar, flying a kite, or eating special foods. You can also learn more about the holiday by attending Day of the Dead events or watching movies and documentaries about it. And don’t forget to eat some pan de muerto!

Kasper Finn

What drives me is a desire to unravel the mysteries of life. Why do we believe what we believe? Are there creatures lurking in the shadows that science has yet to uncover? I want to know it all, and I firmly believe that there are no limits to what can be discovered.

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