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Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)  

Last Updated: Oct 12, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Glossary for the Day of the Dead

alfenique — a special confection used to fashion skulls, fruits and other figures.

angelitos — the souls of the children who have died, literally “little angels”

atole — an ancient drink made from corn meal and water flavored with various fruits.

calvera — a skull, also a slang term for “daredevil”

calveras — songs and poems about the festival careta — a face mask

cempazuchitl — a yellow marigold, the symbol of death

copalli — a scented resin used to make candles

mole — a thick sauce made from a variety of ingredients including chilis, sesame seeds, herbs, spices, chocolate/fruit.

Craven, Scott. "A Marriage Of Aztec, Catholic Cultures." Hispanic Times Magazine 24.4 (2001): 16. Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 Sept. 2015.




Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is primarily celebrated in Mexico, but has spread to the United States and elsewhere, it is a celebration to honor dead loved ones in a tongue in cheek manner. Death is treated with familiarly, not fear and dread and is understood to be an eventuality for us all.


In some rural areas, families adorn grave sites with candles, marigolds, and the favorite foods of deceased relatives in an attempt to persuade the loved ones to return for a family reunion. In urban areas, people take to the street for festive celebrations and indulge in the consumption of food and alcohol. Some wear wooden skull masks known as calacas. Many families build altars, called ofrendas, in their homes, using photos, candles, flowers, and food. The festivities are often characterized by black humour. Toys and food, including breads and candies, are created in the shape of symbols of death such as skulls and skeletons.


The holiday is derived from the rituals of the pre-Hispanic peoples of Mexico. Led by the goddess Mictecacihuatl, known as “Lady of the Dead,” the celebration lasted a month. After the Spanish arrived in Mexico and began converting the native peoples to Roman Catholicism, the holiday was moved to coincide with All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov.2).

Taken from the Library's database Britannica Academic


Día de los Muertos Short Films


Images from Artstor


Skeleton Wedding

Día De Los Muertos Images from Artstor


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