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12 Facts About El Día De Muertos That Show Just How Special It Is

How much do you actually know about this very unique celebration? Enjoy preserving traditions with a delicious cup of chocolate Abuelita, the authentic Mexican hot chocolate.

1. Those lovely sugar skulls are representative of the souls of the departed.


Sometimes decorated with the name of the person who has passed, sugar skulls came about when sugar became abundant in Mexico (they were pretty cheap to make during religious festivities). Also, if you've ever had one, you know they last literally forever !

2. Cempazuchil flowers (marigolds) are believed to guide the spirits back to Earth.

Raul Alberto Davila Preciado / Getty Images / Via In Aztec belief, the marigold was sacred to Mictlantecuhtli, the god of the dead. When the souls of departed family and friends return to earth, it is believed the strong scent of marigold helps to guide them back.

The Aztecs are said to have associated this beautiful flower's color with the sun and believed they would guide those who passed into the underworld. On this date, they are used to help bring the spirits back from down under.

3. On November 2, magic happens as spirits and humans come together in local graveyards.

Cidades para Pessoas / (CC BY 2.0) / Via Flickr: natigarcia

On November 2, people gather in cementerios in what's quite a spellbinding sight. Along with heaps of beautiful flowers, food and music are also present as part of the celebration — mariachi bands are not an unusual sight! Candlelight paves the way for the spirits to come down and rejoice in the festivities.

4. Altares are built in people's homes in honor of the departed.

The ofrenda, or altar, for the dead is an integral part of the celebration. People may begin putting together their altars weeks or even months before November 1, and they range in intricacy. Sometimes you'll see very elaborate ones with several tiers and tons of items, and other times they'll be quite simple. What's important is to create something that reflects the way the deceased lead their lives, honoring their interests and favorite things.

5. The altar's food display is all about what the deceased enjoyed feasting on the most.

Juan / (CC BY- ND) / Via

If you're a taco, tamale, and/or chocolate fan, expect those items to be out and about in your altar when you come visit planet Earth as a ghost at some point!

6. La Catrina was once "La Calavera Garbancera."

Westend61 / Getty Images / Via

La Catrina stems from José Guadalupe Posada’s caricatures of "La Calavera Garbancera," a figure meant to mock members of the privileged class who neglect their indigenous roots. Diego Rivera revamped and then immortalized this now-emblematic figure in his murals, adding the extravagant clothing she is seen wearing in modern references. 💀💃

7. The festivities date back more than 2,000 years.


Día de Muertos can be traced back to religious festivals celebrated by the Nahuas (Aztecas, Chichimecas, Tlaxcaltecas, and Toltecas) in the ninth and tenth months of the Aztec calendar in honor of Mictecacihualt, the goddess of death in ancient mythology. With the arrival of the Spaniards in Mexico, the rituals eventually evolved in order to incorporate elements of Christianity.

8. Día de Muertos bread is where. it's. at.

Danita Delimont / Gallo Images / Via

Food is an important part of almost any Mexican or Latin American celebration, and el Día de Muertos gets its own delicacy: a roll made with flour, yeast, salt, anise seed, and sugar. Paired with some hot chocolate, it's 👌.

9. The Day of the Dead was named an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2003.

Carlos Adampol Galindo Follow / (CC BY 2.0) / Via Flickr: cadampol

It's certainly a tradition worth preserving.

10. Literary calaveritas are a fun aspect of the celebrition.


"Calaveritas" are hilarious epitaph-like verses written about famous people, or sometimes even about close friends or relatives, typically speaking of theoretical deaths and encounters with La Muerte in the afterlife. They are charged with satire and irony and are are good example of Mexico's cheeky humor.

11. A half-painted face is meant to represent the quick transition between life and death.

Rulo Luna Ramos / (CC BY 2.0) / Via Flickr: rulasmx

It's the jump between two worlds.

12. There's more than one way to celebrate Día de Muertos.

Greg Willis / (CC BY-SA 2.0) / Via Flickr: gregw66

The customs and traditions of this celebration have evolved with time, and even in Mexico, they vary according to where you may be. Oaxaca and Mixquic, for example, are two of several wonderful places to visit during the month of November to be throughly impressed with the holiday, which holds an incredible amount of both beauty and history.

Celebrate Día de Muertos in a delicious way: with a cup of chocolate Abuelita, the authentic Mexican hot chocolate.