The Day of the Dead is a traditional holiday celebrated in Mexico and is elsewhere associated with the Catholic celebrations of All Saints’ Day (1 November) and All Souls’ Day (2 November). It is both a remembrance and celebration for the dearly departed.
November 1, called Día de Los Inocentes, or Día de Los Angelitos, is the day on which the lives of lost children are remembered. November 2 is the officially recognized Día de Los Muertos.
During the day, people visit cemeteries and build altars (ofrendas), to offer food and toys to those who have died and is commonly seen as a day of celebration rather than mourning. Some of the home altars might have pan de muerto (bread of the dead) and atole (a corn- and masa-based beverage). Pillows and blankets are left out so the deceased can rest after their long journey.
Calaveras (sugar skulls) are another common symbol seen during Day of the Dead because death is celebrated as a natural part of life, sugar skulls, with big smiles and bright colours are painted on masks and faces and worn during the celebrations.
In modern Mexico the marigold is sometimes called Flor de Muerto (‘Flower of Dead’). These flowers are thought to attract souls of the dead to the offerings. It is also believed the bright petals with a strong scent can guide the souls from cemeteries to their family homes.