How is it celebrated?
The observance of Dia de los Muertos is elaborate. Altars are constructed and decorated with candles, flowers, food and drink. Toys are left for deceased children, and cigarettes and mescal, an alcoholic beverage similar to tequila, are left for deceased adults.
To finish the altar, or ofrendas, skulls made of sugar and decorated with frosting are put into place. The sugar skulls are often purchased at open-air markets.
The altars and accompanying feasts can be expensive, but celebrants sacrifice and save to put on the annual celebrations to honor their departed loved ones.
The celebrations begin in the home, but by the afternoon of Nov. 2, the festivities move to the cemetery, where family members clean graves, listen to music and talk about the dead.
In some places, there are street parties or citywide festivals.
What are sugar skulls?
Sugar skulls are made from molds and decorated with frosting. They are placed on the altars in the homes of those celebrating Dia de los Muertos. Sometimes the skulls are eaten, but more often they are used as decorations for altars.
Sugar art is believed to have been brought to the New World by Italian missionaries in the 17th century.
Where is it celebrated?
The Day of the Dead is celebrated in many Latin American countries in addition to Mexico.
When is it?
Dia de los Muertos begins on Nov. 1 and ends on Nov. 2.
Sources: Mexican Sugar Skull.com; nationalgeographic.org; www.niu.edu