Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday that has been gaining popularity outside of Mexico in recent years. Dia de los Muertos (November 1 - November 2) is not a grim or sad occasion - despite the omnipresent images of skeletons and skulls. Celebrants of this holiday accept the fact that death is an inescapable part of life, so they choose to remember family and friends through laughter and joy.  

"My aesthetic is completely attributed to growing up in Texas with a heavy Mexican influence. The Día de los Muertos skull was an easy find on Congress Avenue in my old hometown of Austin, Texas. Notice Eleanor portrait number two behind it. She’s flattered to have so many representations of herself around." - Barbara Bush
Photographed by Jeremy Allen.
Vogue (November 19, 2013).

Photo via
BuzzFeed (October 31, 2013).

 "The symbol of the skull has been around since beginning of the holiday. La Calavera Catrina, or Daper Skeleton by Jose Guadalupe Posada has become the most iconic image associated with the celebration. However, the drawing was actually intended to be a parody of upper-class women in Mexico."
Image: José Guadalupe Posada / via
BuzzFeed (July 23, 2013).

Photo via
BuzzFeed (October 31, 2013).

"One popular tradition is to make colorful candy made skulls out of sugar. Often they are decorated with the names of the deceased on the forehead of the skull."
Photo:  Marcie Gonzalez / Getty Images.
BuzzFeed (July 23, 2013).

"Offerings, or ofrendas — usually in the form of altars — can feature marigolds along with favorite items."
Photo via Via
"29 Breathtaking Día De Los Muertos Photos" by Adrian Carrasquillo.
BuzzFeed (October 31, 2013).

 "This sweet angel grave marker is nestled amongst thousands of candles which illuminate the cemetery in Xoxocotlan, Oaxaca. Here, family members sit vigil in the cemetery throughout the night of October 31, so as to welcome the "angelitos" or dead children's spirits the moment they are released from heaven to come home to visit their parents."
This history is © Reign Trading Co. All rights reserved. Via

BuzzFeed (October 31, 2013).

"Embellished with ornate icing and fiesta colors, our lively cookies celebrate the Day of the Dead, which takes place in Mexico around Halloween. Lovingly decorated calaveras, or sugar skulls, are always part of the festivities, and ours are made from freshly baked vanilla sugar cookies and hand decorated with royal icing. Prepared from scratch by the Monaco Baking Company using a traditional recipe, each generously sized cookie is an edible work of art."

"This woman artisan was busy decorating her home ofrenda with candles, copal, fruits, cempasuchil (wild marigolds), cock's comb and saint's images. Later, when the home cooking is done, she'll bring big plates of food to offer to the spirits of her returning loved ones! Note the beautiful cross-point cloths she made."
This history is © Reign Trading Co. All rights reserved. Via

"Why should Halloween have all the fun? The Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is primarily a Mexican holiday, but many people in the United States have begun to acknowledge it, if not celebrate it outright. It's a celebration of those who we've lost, but it's not a sad holiday; in fact, traditional rituals include lots of music and color. Observing some kind of simple Day of the Dead tradition can add a more thoughtful component to the festivities at this time of year. Here are a few fun Día de los Muertos crafts that you can do with your kids to introduce this cultural holiday."
"Paper Plate Calaveras Masks" - Scrumdilly-do! blog via Apartment Therapy.

"Dia de los Muertos has its origins in both Aztec tradition and Catholic observance of All Saints Day (November 1) and All Souls Day (November 2). Representations of calacas (skeletons) and calaveras (skulls) are common. These women are celebrating in Oaxaca, Mexico."
Photograph by Nelda Costner, MyShot.
National Geographic.

 "Catrinas are a specific type of calavera: well-dressed, wealthy women of the early 20th century. Here, a group of catrinas pose on Dia de los Muertos in Merida, Mexico."
Photograph by Ellen Fields, MyShot.
"Dia de los Muertos"
National Geographic.

 "Although trick-or-treating has become more common on Dia de los Muertos, the holiday actually has nothing to do with Halloween, which is a Northern European tradition."
Photograph by Michael Allen, MyShot.
National Geographic.

 "Calacas and calaveras are everywhere on Dia de los Muertos: masks, makeup, posters, and decorative figurines like these catrinas."
Photograph by Tomas Castelazo, MyShot.
National Geographic.

 "Sweets, such as pan de muertos (bread of the dead) and these spun-sugar mariachi musicians, are common treats for Dia de los Muertos. The sweet candy is a balance to the bitterness of death."
Photograph by Alejandra Gonzalez Ruiz, MyShot.
National Geographic.

 "Calaveras de azucar are "sugar skulls", often decorated in bright colors like these in Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico. These tiny candies are eaten or left for the dead in ofrendas (small, personal altars) or gravesites."
Photograph by Roberta Garza, MyShot.
National Geographic.

 "Dia de los Muertos celebrates death as a part of the human experience. Tradition holds that the dead (here rising from their candy coffins) would be offended by grieving and sadness, so festivities honor them with laughter and joy."
Photograph by George Olney, MyShot.
National Geographic.

 "Part of Dia de los Muertos often involves cleaning and decorating the graves of loved ones. Adult graves are marked with orange marigolds, while white orchids are left at children's graves."
Photograph by Sisse Brimberg.
National Geographic.

 "Although the celebration is bittersweet and its symbols macabre, Dia de los Muertos usually maintains a happy atmosphere well into the evening. Family members recall departed loved ones, sharing humorous and endearing stories around graves (here in Oaxaca) or ofrendas."
Photograph by Tom Dietrich, MyShot.
National Geographic.

"Dressed as a Calavera for the Day of the Dead celebrations."
 Photo: Michael Emery.

  Photo: Edward Ornellas.

 "Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a two-day festival that takes place every November 1 and 2. Although most strongly identified with Mexico, Dia de los Muertos is celebrated throughout Latin America and everywhere with a Latino population, including Los Angeles, California, above."
Photograph by Laura Hasbun, MyShot.
National Geographic.


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