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Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead, Span. Día de los Muertos, annual festival in Mexico and other parts of Latin America, commonly on November 1st and 2d. Its ancient Mesoamerican roots now augmented by Christian custom, it celebrates the dead with joy and humor rather than mourning, and coincides with All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. Family graves are cleaned and decorated, and home altars ( ofrendas ) are embellished with offerings, e.g., candles, photos, foods, flowers. Special holiday breads and sugar skulls are baked and consumed, and charmingly colorful folk-art skeletons engaged in a variety of everyday activities commemorate the day.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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