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Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, particularly in the Central and South regions where it originated, and by people of Mexican heritage elsewhere. The multi-day holiday, from October 31st to November 2nd, involves family and friends gathering to pray for and remember loved ones who have died as well as helping to support their spiritual journey.
In Mexican culture, death is viewed as a natural part of the human cycle. It is not viewed as a day of sadness but more like a day of celebration because their loved ones awaken and celebrate with them. The experience is very personal. Traditionally, you would create an altar (ofrenda) in your home for the deceased and decorate it with their favorite food with the added touch of el pan de muerto– a slightly sweet bread. This celebration, traditionally, would start in the home and end at the cemetery where festivities would continue throughout the night. In addition to building private altars (ofrendas) at home, people honor the deceased using calaveras (sugar skull), Aztec marigolds along with favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. Visitors would also leave possessions of the deceased at the graves.
The holiday is sometimes called Día de los Muertos in Anglophone countries, a back-translation of its original name, Día de Muertos. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico where the day is a public holiday. Prior to Spanish colonization in the 16th century, the celebration took place at the beginning of Summer. Gradually, it was associated with October 31, November 1, and November 2 to coincide with the Western Christian triduum of Allhallowtide: All Saints' Eve, All Saints' Day, and All Souls' Day.
In 2008, the tradition was inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in the efforts to protect and preserve the holiday on a global platform.
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