Día de los Muertos Is Not Mexican Halloween
Often described as “Mexican Halloween,” Día de los Muertos is actually a celebration where families remember their relatives who have passed.
Often mischaracterized as “Mexican Halloween,” Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a celebration where families welcome the souls of their relatives who have passed. This special holiday is celebrated from October 31 through November 2, though people from different cities in Mexico begin their celebration on October 28. Because the theme of this holiday is death and it begins at the same time of year, many people get it confused with Halloween, but there's a lot more to the Day of the Dead than just calaveras.
During this holiday, families gather to remember those who have passed by following many Mexican traditions filled with colors, food, music and costumes. Las ofrendas (altars) — one of the most prominent symbols of this holiday — are decorated with candles, flowers and photos. Families will also put out their relatives' favorite foods and other offerings as a sign of welcoming. During the period of the Day of the Dead, it is believed that the border between the spirit world and the real world opens, so the souls of the dead awaken and return to the present to celebrate.
The holiday is celebrated all over Mexico, everywhere from the biggest cities to the smallest pueblos. Parades across the country are also part of the festivities and include dancers, music and skeleton puppets. Face painting and costumes are very popular during this time as well, and in recent years, the tradition has spread to places like the United States. In November 2017, Disney and Pixar released the Día de los Muertos–themed movie Coco, which set a box-office record in Mexico, becoming the top film as measured in local currency. The movie gave more visibility to this special holiday, and also explained how the Mexican people celebrate it.