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Día de los Muertos

Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, was originally celebrated in the central and southern areas of Mexico, and is increasingly observed in the United States. It combines Aztec rituals that honor deceased relatives with the Catholic celebrations of All Saints’ Day and All Souls Day. This Mexican holiday is actually celebrated across two dates: November 1 celebrates the memories of children who have died, and November 2 honors adults who have passed. For both dates, it's believed that heaven opens its gates to allow the spirits of those who've passed to return for a day to visit loved ones.

A primary tradition celebrated on Día de los Muertos is to create an ofrenda, or altar, to welcome your departed loved ones into your home. Ofendras can be as simple as a candle and a photograph on a side table, but they frequently include the loved ones' meaningful possessions and foods. Numerous family members and friends might contribute belongings. The ofendra is often ornately decorated with cut tissue paper banners called papel picado, as well as colorful, intricate sugar skulls (also called calaveras). Children sometimes help by constructing a miniature altar in a shoebox.

Another key Day of the Dead tradition is to visit the graveyard as a family. Children learn that death is a part of life, and that their relatives would want to see them laughing and having fun. Families clean and decorate graves, light candles, sing, play games and have a feast. Día de los Muertos is a time to gather with loved ones past and present, remember the details of the people you love, tell family stories, and celebrate relationships.