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29 Breathtaking Día De Los Muertos Photos

The "Day of the Dead" has exploded in popularity in recent years. Here's a look at the catrinas, sugar skulls, and ofrendas created to remember and honor loved ones who have passed on.

Posted on October 31, 2013, at 2:24 p.m. ET

1. Día De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and by Mexican-Americans across the U.S.

3. In places like Los Angeles, the holiday has taken on a pan-Latino quality, celebrated by some Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and other Central Americans.

4. People celebrate the dead by visiting their grave sites and/or building altars to them.

5. Graves and altars are decorated with things that were loved by the deceased, like food, liquor, flowers, and trinkets.

6. Offerings, or ofrendas — usually in the form of altars — can feature marigolds along with favorite items.

7. Here are a bunch of them.

8. People also paint themselves as a calavera (skull) or calaca (skeleton).


10. The way the holiday is celebrated now is a mixture of pre-Hispanic traditions along with some merging of Catholic theology.


12. According to Mexican folklore, the gates of heaven open at midnight on Nov. 1 and the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours.

13. The next day, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy what has been prepared for them.

14. The timeline is not strictly adhered to, however, and many begin celebrating on Oct. 31.

16. People dress up as a catrina and catrin.

Rachel Matos / Via


18. The catrina is a famous creation of José Guadalupe Posada, a Mexican illustrator.

United States public domain

19. After his death, the catrina became closely associated with Día De Los Muertos.

22. Sugar skulls are made and used for decorating altars. Often, the name of the deceased is painted on the forehead.

Jazmín Morales

24. Some people combine Halloween and Día de los Muertos.

28. For practitioners, Día de los Muertos is a very happy and festive holiday that celebrates the lives of people they love who have gone on.

29. A way of staying connected to their families, both living and dead.

Thanks to Jazmín Morales for insight and for many of the great photos.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.