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Día de los Muertos is a two-day holiday celebrated in Mexico, and by people of Mexican heritage all over the world. Known in English as Day of the Dead, it is a time of honour and respect for deceased friends and family members.
Altars known as ofrendas are built at the grave sites of loved ones and decorated with photographs, personal objects, favourite foods and drinks, candles, and flowers. Marigolds in particular. Known as Flor de Muerto, or Flower of the Dead, marigolds are thought to guide souls of the dead back to their place of rest.
The ofrendas of departed children, or los angelitos (the little angels) will hold toys and sweets, whereas the ofrendas of adults may have bottles of tequila or mezcal. Ofrendas are sometimes also set up in family homes, with statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary, pictures of dead friends and relatives, and candles.
Food is an important part of Día de los Muertos, whether left as an offering for the dead or consumed by the living. Pan de muerto and calaveras being the most iconic examples. Pan de muerto, or bread of the dead, is a sweet bread bun with a sugared coating, often decorated with pieces of extra dough in the shape of bones.
Calavera is the Spanish word for skull, and calaveras are an integral part of the Día de los Muertos festivities. While they can be carved from wood or moulded out of clay, the most widely known calaveras are the brightly coloured sugar skulls used as offerings on the ofrendas. The word calavera is also used to describe a type of humorous short-form poem intended to poke fun at the living and remind them of their mortality.
Despite its theme of death, Día de los Muertos is a joyous celebration of life and love, with singing, dancing, colour, and fun, when the dearly departed briefly return to the living world from the afterlife.
Día de los Muertos is celebrated on the 1st and 2nd of November each year.