Day of the Dead ~ Día de los Muertos

Aztec and Catholic ancestral traditions blend with Halloween face painting into a Mexican celebration enjoyed around the world

México City Day of the Dead Parade

Saturday, October 31, 2020
MEXICO CITY, Mexico ~ This parade was inspired by the movie parade in the James Bond film ‘Spectre’

NYC Parks Life and Death Celebration: Día de los Muertos

Saturday, October 26, 2019
BEDFORD-STUYVESANT, Brooklyn ~ NYC Parks holds a family celebration of Day of the Dead and Fall traditions at Hattie Carthan Community Market

Mano a Mano’s Day of the Dead celebration brings Mexican culture to life

Fri-Sun, October 25-27, 2019
EAST VILLAGE, NYC ~ Day of the Dead altar building, Mexican Marketplace, live music and Indigenous Aztec ceremony at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-bowery

Staten Island Day of the Dead Festival

Sunday, October 20, 2019
WEST BRIGHTON, Staten Island ~ Help build a communal ofrenda (altar) and learn Mexican Day of the Dead handicrafts for the entire family with teaching artists at Our Lady of Mount Carmel-St. Benedicta School

The Day of the Dead Celebration

Traditions vary from town to town, but the celebration generally lasts three days.

October 31

Families prepare ofrendas (home altars) to remember family members who have passed away, and invite them to visit.

November 1 ~ Día de los Santos Inocentes / All Saints Day

The souls of remembered children visit their families.

November 2 ~ Día de los Muertos / All Souls Day

The souls of remembered adults visit their families.

Many families also clean and decorate the graves of family members on this day. In parts of Mexico where the tradition is strong, entire cemeteries come alive with people and decorations.

Day of the Dead is a family celebration

The Mexican tradition of Día de los Muertos has become popular worldwide, partly through the striking skeleton drawings of “La Calavera Catrina” by Mexican cartoonist José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913).

The Native American tradition goes back thousands of years to the Aztec harvest festival honoring Mictlancihuatl, the Aztec queen of the underworld. It was originally celebrated throughout the month of August.

In many Native American traditions the worlds of the living and the dead are like two rooms in the same house. Death is not frightening. In fact, the Aztecs believed that death is reality and life is only a dream. That’s an interesting thought.

In some traditional cultures, the bones of family members were kept in the home. You could still speak with Grandma, by talking to her bones. In a way, she was also keeping an eye on you, so you had to be responsible. Christian priests imagined darkness in this and tried to change the tradition to All Souls Day.

The Day of the Dead comes from southern Mexico. The Mexican government made it a national holiday to help unite the country around culture. Today it is celebrated across the country.

Part of the Day of the Dead tradition is the creation of ofrendas, altars to entice the souls of family members to visit. Altars are decorated with marigolds, sugar skulls, paper cutouts, and mementos of the deceased. Toys are put out for child souls. Drinks are put out for adult souls. Food and sweets are put out for all. Marigolds are thought to attract the dead.

It’s a party filled with family and fun. Why else would the souls come back to visit?

Day of the Dead Traditions

There are old and new Day of the Dead traditions


Sat-Mon, Oct 31-Nov 2, 2020
Honor the Aztec goddess of the underworld

Mexican Marigold, Aztec Marigold, Cempasúchil are Day of the Dead flowers

October 31 – November 2
Mexican Marigolds are a Central American flower with healing powers that attract spirits to visit their families on the Day of the Dead

Catrina La Calavera Garbancera is the icon of the Day of the Dead

Skull Catrina, by José Guadalupe Posada, makes fun of Indigenous Americans trying to be European. Death teaches that we are all equal.

Ofrendas are home altars that invite family souls to visit on the Day of the Dead

October 31
We build home altars to invite family souls to visit us on the Day of the Holy Innocents (November 1) and the Day of the Dead (November 2)

‘Coco’, Disney’s Day of the Dead movie is at Lincoln Center Out of Doors

Thursday, July 25, 2019
LINCOLN CENTER ~ Mariachi Real de Mexico plays the main plaza, then La Santa Cecilia from Los Angeles performs before a screening in Spanish with English subtitles. 2018 Oscar & Golden Globe Best Animated Film

Past Day of the Dead Celebrations

Mercado Global Fashion Forward Celebration 2018

November 1, 2018, Thursday
Bowery Hotel
East Village, Manhattan
Karla Martinez de Salas, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Mexico & Latin America,
Yael Aflalo, Founder of Reformation,
Alida Boer, Philanthropist & Entrepreneur,
in helping rural Guatemalan women become entrepreneurs

Calpulli ‘Día de los Muertos’ on NY1

Enscenario: El Día de Muertos Llega al Town Hall
by Fernando Cárdenas
NY1 Theater Reporter
November 3, 2017

Calpulli ‘Día de los Muertos’ on NBC News

What’s El Día de los Muertos? It’s Not Scary, and It’s Not Halloween
by Kristina Puga
November 1, 2017

Mano a Mano Day of the Dead celebration 2017

St. Mark’s Church
131 East 10th St
at Second Ave
East Village, Manhattan
Friday – Sunday
October 27 – 29, 2017

Calpulli ‘Día de los Muertos’ celebrates Day of the Dead at The Town Hall

Count Basie Theatre, Red Bank, New Jersey
Thursday, October 26, 2017
Queens Theatre
Sunday, October 29, 2017
The Town Hall, Midtown, Manhattan
Saturday, November 4, 2017

NYC Parks Day of the Dead

Saint Mary’s Park
Mott Haven, The Bronx
Saturday, October 28, 2017