You can partake in amazing Día de Los Muertos celebrations stateside, but there’s nothing quite like experiencing the festive tradition in its homeland
Though Halloween has its moment in Mexico, complete with ghoulish costumes and fun-size candy, the main event occupies the following two days, November 1 and 2, for Día de Los Muertos. The centuries-old festival combines indigenous rituals with the Catholic feast days of All Saints and All Souls, and makes light of the sadness that is so commonly associated with death. Mexicans welcome back to earth the souls of their deceased loved ones by constructing elaborate altars, decorating their graves with emblematic marigolds, and holding candlelit processions. Like any real party, food is a major player, and sweets like pan de muertos and spun-sugar skulls are served to balance the bitterness of death. The obvious figurehead of the festival, La Catrina, is a female calavera dressed in fancy European garb, created to mock the Mexican aristocracy during the height of the Mexican Revolution. The satirical figure is also meant to poke fun at death itself, and can be seen in household decorations, public displays, and the thousands of revelers who paint their faces in celebration of the cycle of life, from start to end.