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Los Días de Muertos: The Dead Days / Days of the Dead
(pron. lows DEE-ahs day M-WEAR-tows) Los Días de Muertos is based on the Aztec belief that the dead do not immediately go to their final resting place. It is celebrated in U.S. Latin American Communities and in México. The goddess Mictecacihuatl: the Lady of the Dead presides. November 1, All Saint’s: Todos Santos is also called Day of the Little Angels. It honors the souls of children. Families go in the morning to the cemetery, wash tombstones, and decorate the graves with orange marigolds called cempasúchil (pron. sem-pah-soo-chil), a Nahuatl (pron. NAH-wahtl) Aztec name meaning Flower of the Dead, white cala lilies, and bird of paradise flowers. Vendors of soft drinks, sweets, tortillas, ice cream, and flowers are there. Children give each other skull-shaped: calaveras candies called made of sugar, marzipan, or chocolate, with colored icing and sequined eye sockets. The name of the person is put on the skull. People arrive with blankets, candles, fruit and baskets full of food.

The recently deceased return on November 2, All Soul’s Day, to be with the living. They are blind and are guided by candlelight and incense. In Mexico fireworks are shot to guide the spirits home. (2, 11, 12, 13, 17)

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© 1998. Christine O’Keeffe, Ver. 3.0. Monday, July 12, 2004