A CELEBRATION OF THE ANCESTOR RICH, FAMOUS OR NOT In much of Latin America death has an important cultural meaning. The past is not dead and the deceased are still very much part of every day life.

Detail of Diego Rivera Altar with a portrait of Frieda Kahlo. The artist paints his favorite watermelon, his tequila and personal objects.

The Day of the Dead on November 2 celebrates {yes, celebrates, not mourns} the memory of the departed ancestor and welcomes his or her spirit back among the living. Food, drink, flowers, music, family, friends and favorite objects of the deceased are all laid out to welcome the departed soul back among the living.

Ghoulish decor in the popular nightclub ‘Z’.

During this serious, but also joyous, festival the community decorates not only the cemeteries and churches, but also the shops, schools, official buildings and public plazas. In the cemeteries, the crowds rival any festival day of the year where young and old gather for the purpose of togetherness with the living and the departed. At the gravesite there is music, food and sharing of stories while children play and adults tend to the thousands of flowers.

A vendor in front of a painting for Day of the Dead at the ‘Jardin’.

Elaborate altars to commemorate the deceased {often famous} are erected in private homes, in town squares and universities. Death is mocked through sculpted, often decoratively elaborate, skulls and skeletons that can be found everywhere including in the form of toys and candies for children. Even the restaurants and nightclubs are decorated with ghosts, skulls and ghouls to mock death.

An Altar paying tribute to famous Mexican actor: Caniflas.


Performers from Cirque du Soleil at the nightclub ‘Z’.


Candies of skulls and skeletons are everywhere. The sugar skulls represent the sweetness of life {sugar}. The sadness of death {skull}.

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