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Photo by Julie Schwietert Collazo
Día de los Muertos in Mexico CityThe idea that death can be both colorful and a cause for celebration may be uncomfortable, but it may also provoke curiosity, and there's no better time to learn about the Mexican attitude toward death than during the annual Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, festivities, held during the last weekend of October.
Mexicans remember their loved ones who have died by creating colorful altars and ofrendas (offerings of various sorts), and cooking or purchasing special confections, including sugar skulls. Throughout the city, you'll find small- and large-scale offerings, many of which are quite artistic and detailed; these are in parks, museums, and even hotel lobbies.
While it may seem that the honoring of a loved one's death is intensely personal, many Día de los Muertos observations are quite public, so don't shy away from being as involved as you feel comfortable being if you're invited to help build an altar or if you just want to look at an offering that's been set up in a public place.