Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is celebrated throughout most of Latin America on November 1st. The tradition comes from the country of Mexico and is a combination of ancient indigenous rituals and Catholic traditions. Brazilians celebrate the holiday by visiting churches and cemeteries and praying for the dead. In Spain, families attend parades and festivals, and often visit cemeteries to pray for loved ones.
This holiday is meant to honor the dead and to celebrate the lives of deceased family members and loved ones. It is not meant to be a holiday of mourning. Famous symbols of this holiday include skeletons and skulls, or calacas and calaveras. These depictions of the dead are often dressed in fancy clothes and appear to be enjoying life. Festivities held on this day feature a variety of sweets, parades, parties, drinks and other activities that the deceased may have enjoyed while still alive.
In Mexico, it is thought the dead arise and join in the celebrations with the living on this day. It is a way for people to understand death as another part of the cycle of life, to be honored and not feared. The holiday coincides with the Catholic tradition, All Soul's Day. Many countries throughout Europe, Asia and Africa enjoy similar festivities on this day.