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Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

Dia de los Muertos, or Dia de Muertos, is the Mexican Day of the Dead festival. It's more an occasion for festivity than solemnity, but there are elements of both. Families gather at cemeteries to celebrate those who have passed before them with bundles of huge marigolds and picnics with plenty of good food. At home, celebratory altars, called ofrendas, are created. These altars are decorated with skulls made of painted sugar, photographs, candles, papel picado, sweets, and festive skeleton figures. We have long loved the holiday, for there are elements in Italian culture that are similar, though the Italian version, known as I Morti, is not quite as festive as the Mexican version. Dia de Muertos falls each year on the 2nd of November, but the season when we especially remember our beloved dead traditionally begins with Hallowe'en (the Eve of All Hallows) and continues through to Martinmas on the 11th of November.