The Day of the Dead is known in Spanish as El Día de los Muertos. You may think this celebration only happens in Mexico, but did you know that Colombia and Nicaragua celebrate as part of their culture too?

The holiday is celebrated in Mexico and other parts of Latin America and has also made its way to the United States. It may have changed throughout the years, as it was originally an Aztec custom, but it is still influenced by its origins.


Celebrating the Day of the Dead

All around the world, thousands of people dress up to celebrate the annual Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos in Spanish. The traditional Mexican holiday begins on the night of Halloween, Oct. 31 and goes until Nov. 2 as people pay their respects to the dead.

Skulls, for example, play an important role. Calacas, which are wooden skull masks, are popular. People wear them and dance to honor their dead relatives. People also make sugar skulls with the names of their deceased relatives on them.


img_0520There are some people who believe that their loved ones return on the Day of the Dead. Unlike Halloween, Dia de Los Muertos has not lost its “religious and spiritual roots,” according to Huffington Post.

In many Latin American countries, cemeteries are not maintained privately. Therefore, it is up to the families to take care of their relatives’ graves. On Dia de Los Muertos, families will come to their loved ones’ graves and clean them. They may also spend the day there.

Not all countries hold festivals and use bright colors, as Mexico does when it celebrates the holiday. Colombia calls the holiday Dia de Difuntos, which is still the same meaning as Day of the Dead. The Christian tradition is a day of prayer and remembering those who have passed away. Catholic churches will recite a prayer for the dead.


photo credit: V’s World, Trendlupe