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How to Celebrate the Day of the Dead

The Day of the Dead has been celebrated in Mexico since pre-Columbian times. Here's how to remember your lost loved ones in a joyful, respectful way.


  • Step 1: Decorate your home Decorate your home with orange marigolds and fruits in anticipation of the arrival of the dead on October 31.
  • Step 2: Set up an altar Set up an altar with pictures of deceased family members. Decorate it with flowers, bread, fruit and candy.
  • TIP: Buy some special Day of the Dead bread, which is sold in Mexican bakeries during the month of October.
  • Step 3: Light candles Light all-night burning candles in the afternoon of October 31. Then attend Mass on the morning of November 1.
  • TIP: Although the Day of the Dead has its roots in pre-Columbian culture, it is today very much a Catholic holiday.
  • Step 4: Visit a cemetery After mass, visit the cemetery where your deceased relatives have been buried. Take hoes, picks, and shovels so you can clean their graves and honor their memories. Place flowers, bread, and fruit on the graves.
  • Step 5: Dance Take part in traditional dances in the evening. Then return to the cemetery at midnight for a reunion of the living and the dead.
  • FACT: The Aztecs believed that the spirits of their dead would return to them as butterflies.

You Will Need

  • Marigolds and fruit
  • Altar and decorations
  • Candles
  • Mass
  • Cemeteries
  • Dances
  • Day of the Dead bread (optional)

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