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Dia de los Muertos

Los Dias de Muertos is a traditional holiday in Mexico that honors the dead. Many Mexicans prepare their homes and cemeteries to welcome their ancestors on the evenings of October 31 through November 2. The Days of the Dead are a combination of Aztec and Christian traditions of All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day. Gravesites are cleaned and fresh flowers are used to decorate them. Many families spend the night in the graveyard with lighted candles, telling stories of the ones who have passed on, quietly singing songs and eating together. An altar, or "ofrenda" is decorated at home, usually consisting of a table with pictures of the deceased, flowers (especially marigolds), candles, "copal" insense, and many images of "calaveras" or cavorting skeletons. Food and drink are also placed on the altar for the visiting dead relatives to enjoy while visiting the living. In the marketplace, candy skulls, marzipan cofins, skeleton sculptures and lots of fresh flowers are sold for the celebration.