7 fun ways to celebrate the Day of the Dead

The Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos in Spanish, is celebrated in Mexico from October 31 to November 2. It's a time for people to honor their deceased relatives, who are believed to return and visit their living family members.

The Day of the Dead combines the Aztec tradition of celebrating ancestors with the Spanish holiday of All Saints' Day. Each year, families host parties and feasts in their homes and in graveyards where their loved ones are buried. They may also create altars (or ofrendas) as vibrant memorials to important people who have died. In some towns, flower petals are laid in a path from the cemetery to the family home, so that the spirits can find their way.

Catrina display

Despite its name, the Day of the Dead is a very happy time, and people in Mexico often fill their homes and the graves of loved ones with colorful decorations. Below are 7 fun ways you can join in the spirit of this celebration!

1. Make festive sugar skulls.

These can be used as both bright decorations and delicious treats.

Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls

2. Check to see if your town or city is hosting a parade for the Day of the Dead.

If there's one nearby, gather some friends and family and go! (Bonus points for dressing up!)

3. Make some pan de muertos.

This sweetened bread is traditionally eaten at the gravesite or altar of the deceased.

Pan de muertos

4. Follow this Day of the Dead make-up tutorial.

You'll look like a colorful calavera (skull)!

5. Watch the 2014 movie, "The Book of Life."

This animated fantasy takes place during the Day of the Dead in 1920s Mexico.

AFSers with a dog in Guatemala

6. Make a colorful paper garland, known in Spanish as papel picado.

Use it to decorate your house or apartment and throw a party!

7. Browse through these spectacular photos.

Learn more about how the holiday is celebrated in different parts of Mexico, and even in other countries like the U.S. and Brazil.

Day of the Dead altar

The Day of the Dead is about celebrating the memory of deceased loved ones with elaborate costumes, delicious food, and imaginative decorations. You can put together a party for your friends or join in a community event, but the most exciting way to experience this holiday is by spending some time in Mexico.

AFS-USA offers the unique opportunity to study abroad in Mexico for a semester while attending high school and living with a local family. Don't miss this chance to develop your Spanish conversational skills and take part in traditional Mexican holidays and celebrations like Dia de los Muertos!

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Or, if your dream destination is elsewhere, you can explore our other 120+ study abroad programs in countries around the world.