Day of the Dead (or Dia de los Muertos, in Spanish) is a Mexican traditional holiday that honors ancestors, family members, and friends who have passed away. The holiday takes place on November 1, in connection with the Catholic holiday of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (November 2). Day of the Dead falls closely to Halloween, but is celebrated on a larger scale—Mexicans embrace it as a festive occasion.

Though both of these holidays have combined with Catholicism, they are very different. Celebrations of Halloween come from the idea that the dead are to be feared; children wear costumes as protection and jack-o-lanterns are supposed to ward off evil spirits.

By contrast, in Day of the Dead celebrations, the spirits of departed loved ones are welcomed into the home and cemeteries. Death is portrayed as something natural and normal.

At home, people assemble little altars, stocked with the departed loved ones favorite foods and drinks, their photos, candles, and pungent marigolds, a flower long associated with death.You do not need to be Mexican or Catholic to honor your dearly departed. Day of the Dead is a beautiful celebration of life. This video shares the cultural significance and symbolism and will hopefully inspire you to celebrate.

Create a tradition this Day of the Dead by making a home altar, preparing a passed loved one’s favorite foods, and join them with a toast of remembrance.

1. How to Celebrate Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead): Learn how to celebrate the memory of loved ones lost with a traditional celebration along with recipes.

2. Day of the Dead Display: An altar does not have to be large and expensive. A small and simple altar is all you need.

3. What I Want on my Altar de Muertos: What would you want your family and friends to place on your future altar? It’s something to think about.

4. Who celebrates Día de los Muertos in the United States?: This post is very interesting and even shares statistics in a visual infographic.

5. Dia de Los Muertos Altar: Slideshow: Great ideas on what essential symbolic items are needed for a complete display.

6. Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead): One of the more traditional dishes seen at Day of the Dead celebrations is Pan de Muerto(Bread of the Dead). This traditional round loaf of bread has strips of dough rolled out and attached on top to represent bones and skulls. This bread is eaten and left on gravesites or on altars as part of the festivities.

7. Dia de Los Muertos – Chocolate Skull Cake: Introduce your children to the holiday by making a delicious cake together in the shape of a skull.

8. Five Mexican recipes to make for Day of the Dead: Make traditional Mexican Day of the Dead food for the occasion such as champurrado, tamales, mole, calabaza en tacha, and pan de muerto.

9. Ofrendas: Celebrating Day of the Dead: In this eBook, you will find Day of the Dead recipes and crafts to celebrate the occasion.