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November 2, Day of the Dead: Things to Do

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The Day of the Dead holiday celebrated in Mexico and to a lesser extent in other areas of Latin America and in the United States, honors dead loved ones and makes peace with the eventuality of death by treating it familiarly, without fear and dread. The holiday is derived from the rituals of the pre-colonization Indigenous Peoples of Mexico. Led by the goddess Mictecacihuatl, known as “Lady of the Dead,” the celebration lasted a month. After the Spanish arrived in Mexico and began forcibly converting the Native Peoples to Roman Catholicism, the holiday was moved to coincide with All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (November 1 and 2, respectively).

Modern observations vary from region to region. In some rural areas, families adorn grave sites with candles, marigolds, and the favorite foods of deceased relatives in an attempt to persuade the loved ones to return for a family reunion. In urban areas, people take to the street for festive celebrations and indulge in the consumption of food and alcohol. Some wear wooden skull masks known as calacas. Many families build altars, called ofrendas, in their homes, using photos, candles, flowers, and food. The festivities are often characterized by black humor. Toys and food, including breads and candies, are created in the shape of symbols of death such as skulls and skeletons.

Here is a quick listings guide for celebrating the Day of the Dead holiday.

View the San Francisco Day of the Dead Procession and Festival of Altars.

Attend the 3rd Annual Dia de Los Muertos Parade and Vigil for Peace in Milwaukee.

Watch the spectacle of the South Florida Dia de los Muertos Celebration in Fort Lauderdale.

Experience the Smithsonian's Dia de los Muertos Festival: A Second Life Experience! The Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum presents: Festival in Second Life.

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Take in one of the many events happening in Phoenix today at throughout weekend, including the 23rd Annual All Souls Procession.

Visit the 26th annual exhibition of one of Mexico’s most important celebrations, and the largest annual Day of the Dead exhibition in the United States at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago.

Dance at CHAC Norte: "El Dia de los Muertos 2012": A celebration of life event at the Chicano Humanities & Arts Council in Denver.

For more activities and events throughout the country and internationally, click here.

Happy Day of the Dead!

Tanya Tagaq, Sulfur, from album Retribution

AP Photo/Russel A. Daniels