Brazil officially observes Day of the Dead on the first two days of November, rather than Halloween. Brazil Travel Northeast reports, however, that costume parties and the trick-or-treat custom are slowly gaining popularity in larger cities. Brazil has no official reason to ignore the holiday, but instead is bound by an ancient Aztec tradition.
Day of the Dead begins as a solemn homage to departed family members. As stated by Mexican Sugar Skull, the day begins at midnight on Oct. 31 when celebrants believe the spirits of their deceased children come down from heaven for a 24-hour visit. The adult spirits then join their families on Nov. 2. In preparation for the celebration, beautiful altars are built in each home featuring candles, flowers, fruits, nuts, tortillas and traditional breads called "pan de muerto."
Weary spirits are revived with soda, hot chocolate and water. Participants believe that a happy spirit brings good luck, protection and wisdom to the surviving family. The altar building represents a close family whether on earth or in heaven. On Nov. 2, families move to the graveyard, and the festivities become lively. Local bands provide music as tombstones are cleaned, memories of loved ones are shared and games are played.