November 2 is one of the most important days on the Mexican calendar - and one of the most colorful for visitors. With history dating back to the Mayans and Aztecs, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is an extravagant celebration of life. All over Mexico, people honor not only deceased family, friends and ancestors, but also historical and cultural heroes, like the artist Frida Kahlo seen at top left in this picture.
Grave sites are cleaned and decorated with flowers, traditionally marigolds. Altars, called ofrendas, are set up in homes with pictures of the departed, candles, candy skulls called calaveras, and favorite foods, often including a bottle of tequila, mezcal, or a cerveza (beer). In many cities and towns - notably Mexico City, Oaxaca, Pátzcuaro and San Miguel de Allende - large altars are set up around the plaza and the streets are festooned with colorful, intricately cut tissue paper banners called papel picados. Parades, music and other festivities often go late into the night. Dia de los Muertos provides a unique Mexican cultural experience and a celebration of life for all!