The Festival of the Dead tradition comes from the colonial religious syncretism. It is observed in different parts and cultures around the world.

Festival of the Dead is a centuries-old tradition that could not be forgotten. The history of the holiday goes back to the Mayans and the Aztecs. Their faith was closely associated with the rituals of death and resurrection. Locals often kept real skulls of the dead in their homes as potent symbols.

Spectacular street processions, noisy carnivals, improvised exhibitions and fairs are organized in large cities, while cemetery picnics are arranged in small ones. “Festival of the Dead” carnivals have repeatedly been played in Hollywood films. One of the most famous is the opening scene in the latest James Bond film Spectre – it’s full of exotic surroundings and spectacular staging. A colourful animated cartoon by Pixar Studio “Coco”, in which such an unusual holiday is played out, was released in the cinemas in 2017. “Festival of the Dead” is an integral part of the life of many people and cultures around the world. Everyone goes crazy in their own way.


An altar of the dead is made up of a wide variety of objects, some traditional and some personal, for the deceased. Among the necessary elements are candles, incense, salt, sugar skulls, dead bread, confetti and flowers. In addition, personal items are placed, food is enjoyed to the fullest, some liquor or cigars and photographs are arranged and even some toys or candies are provided if children are involved.


The Festival seeks to keep the diverse ancestral traditions of the dead in force, as well as being a window to show the world the vast culture of the country. This tradition is preserved through the customs of yesteryear and different contemporary artistic expressions.

Origin of the Festival of the Dead

The Festival of the Dead has pagan origins like most religious festivals celebrated today. One of the oldest pagan rituals related to the Festival of the Dead is a custom of Celtic origin named Samain. This rite began with prayers honoring the memory of the lost souls taken by God. The deluge set the date for this event – it began on the 17th day of the second month, which is the beginning of November in our current calendar and is celebrated all over the world.

The Festival of the Dead and All Saints

The Festival of the Dead is often confused with All Saints’ Day, which is celebrated on November 1st.

The Festival of the Dead is a Christian holiday celebrating the memory of the dead of the family. On the calendar, it is about the feast. In the Catholic tradition, it is an opportunity to go to the cemetery to clean the graves and honor the memory of the deceased.


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Wendy Saunders - Author

I am a romantic suspense author based in Hampshire in the UK

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