Día de Muertos
Mexican tradition "Día de Muertos" Reuters

Day of the Dead or Día de Muertos is a Mexican holiday named Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the Unesco. And it is a tradition observed around the world in other countries and cultures, which celebrates, prays and remembers people’s loved ones who have died. Within it, traditions vary from town to town but mainly consist on setting up colorful altars at home and in graves, eating certain sweets and gathering in remembrance of the deceased. Experts trace the celebration to the Mexico’s pre-Hispanic past, when the Aztecs paid tribute to the goddess Mictecacihuatl, also known as the Queen of the underworld.

Altars or Ofrendas: These are the main attraction of the holiday and they are custom made for each of the departed to allure them to pay a visit to the house that night. The tribute may include the person’s favorite food, beverages, photos and other memorabilia, as well as marigold flowers, sugar skulls with family names, candles and intricate cut out tissue paper. Toys are included for children and tequila, mezcal or pulque for adults.

La Catrina: The holiday can take on a satirical tone with its main character being squiggly skeletons, and a most elegant ‘Catrina.’ Her image represents death and she appears wearing an elegant European-style hat in bright colors and flowers, originally drawn by famous Mexican cartoon illustrator, José Guadalupe Posada. Many other figurines originate from this character, including colorfully decorated sugar or chocolate skulls.

Pan de Muertos: Similar to a sponge cake or a brioche, this sweet bread has a touch of anise and is baked and adorned with little, bone-shaped pieces of dough, then coated with sugar.

Decorating and visiting graves: The initial tradition of decorating graves is similar to the altars and on the day when the holiday ends (November 2), people visit the cemeteries to cover the graves in flowers and pay tribute in order to let them rest for another year.

Calaverita: This is the Mexican version of trick-or-treating; children go knocking on doors asking for their ‘calaverita’, which can be anything from money to candy.

Processions: Some people organize processions to pay tribute to the deceased on the way to the cemetery while carrying flowers, images, candles and signing.

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