Día de Muertos, Calaveras

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Día de Muertos, Calaveras

Día de muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a festive occasion observed in Mexico on November 1 and 2. During the colonial era, a mixture of Spanish Catholic religious rites and pre-Hispanic traditions that commemorated people's deaths through the wearing of costumes gave rise to this celebration. On the Day of the Dead, people visit cemeteries and place flowers and candles on gravestones; they also make offerings of food and drinks to the spirits of the departed. In the early twenty-first century, celebrations occur across the entire country, with some regional and ethnic differences. A central element in every region is setting up an ofrenda ("offering"), both in cemeteries and homes; on and around these little altars, families arrange trinkets, food, drinks, pan de muerto ("bread of the dead"), and calaveritas or calaveras, small, skull-shaped candies with the names of family members on the forehead. The purpose of ofrendas is to offer the souls that visit their living relatives some of the food or drinks they used to taste in life. In some areas, people remain in graveyards all night. The towns Mixquic and Pátzcuaro are known for their traditional Day of the Dead celebrations.

See alsoPosada, José Guadalupe .


Brandes, Stanley. Skulls to the Living, Bread to the Dead: The Day of the Dead in Mexico and Beyond. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2006.

                             Perla OrquÍdea Fragoso Lugo