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If you are going to Mexico in the beginning of November and you find yourself in the middle of the Día de los muertos, do not tell the first Mexican you encounter that he/she is late for Halloween!

Don’t be afraid if someone is offering  a sugar skull. This person doesn’t want you dead.

Here are some explanations that may prevent the cultural shock.
The « Day of the Dead » is a tradition more than 3,000 years old. On November 1st and 2nd, the souls of the deceased people come back to earth. This is why  families are having parties in the honour of the departed.

Private altars are built inside the houses and on the graves. Families sing as they go to the cemeteries; they clean and decorate the grave with offerings such as flowers and food: the favourite foods and beverages of the departed,  tequila bottles, cigarettes  (if he/she was a smoker), calaveras  (« skulls » made of sugar or chocolate), pan de muertos (« bread of the dead ») some kind of bun covered with sugar, copal (incense)… In the most traditional region, you will see families dancing, singing and eating next to the grave all night long.

Their way of seeing death is quite different from ours. It is not something frightening you have to fear. On the contrary, the Mexicans make fun of death, they play and live together with death. You will certainly see some Catrinas (elegant skull). They are very popular figures representing a skeleton of an upper class woman. It tells each and every single one of us that were are all equal in front of death.

A documentary about Day of the Dead, in Spanish:

Moan’Phisémy

Learn more about Day of the Dead

More about Day of the Dead

Learn more about La Catrina

Día de los muertos, article in Spanish

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