Boo! While Americans prepare fancy costumes to spook their neighbors through the traditions of Halloween on October 31st, natives of many Latin American countries simultaneously prepare to celebrate their Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) on November 1st & 2nd. Together, both holidays create a 3-day festival of traditions that honors and celebrates deceased loved ones in multiple countries across the world. Whether you celebrate these holidays or not, we hope to shed some light on the eerie traditions behind Halloween + Day of the Dead, 3 Days of Tradition. Enjoy the read...if you dare!

Dia De Los Muertos Make Up


The start of these celebrations begins with Halloween (also known as All Saint's Eve or All Hallow's Eve) on October 31st. Traditions behind this holiday include praying for and honoring recently deceased saints (hallows), martyrs and faithfully departed loved ones. The tradition is to pray for the souls of the deceased who may be living in purgatory so that they might be considered for acceptance into heaven. The more prayers and offerings the living provides for the departed, the more chances of them getting in to heaven.

It is thought that Halloween stems from pagan roots from Ireland which were converted into Christian traditions after being brought to the colonization of North America. On October 31st (the end of harvest and the start of winter), it is said that the boundary between the living world and the 'otherworld' thinned. Meaning, the souls of the departed could more easily enter the living world. Thus, traditions were born such as wearing costumes and going door-to-door to collect candies from neighbors. Originally, this was done as a way for people to dress up on behalf of the departed to receive an offering. If an evil spirit had entered the living world, it was thought that dressing up protected oneself from their harm. In more modern times, we've adopted the idea of wearing scary costumes as a way to frighten evil spirits who were able to cross over on October 31st. This curious evening is followed by All Saint's Day (or All Hallow's Day) on November 1st which is dedicated to honoring all saints and martyrs, followed by All Soul's Day on November 2nd which is dedicated to celebrating the lives of faithfully departed loved ones and relatives.


Originating in Mexico but observed across most of Latin America, the two-day Dia de los Muertos celebration commences on November 1st and concludes on November 2nd each year. Typically, November 1st is reserved as the day to honor deceased babies and youth, which is why it is commonly known as Día de los Inocentes (or Day of the Innocents) or Día de los Angelitos (or Day of the Little Angels). November 2nd is then reserved as the day to celebrate deceased adults and it is called Día de los Muertos or Día de los Difuntos (or Day of the Dead). Latin Americans traditionally gather together with friends and family, share a lavish meal and decorate burial plots or in-home shrines of loved ones using items such as marigolds (flower of the dead), sugar skulls, food and various decorations. Those who celebrate this holiday believe that the deceased are awakened in spirit form from their eternal sleep during Dia de los Muertos to spend time with family and friends. Often, these celebrations are viewed in a positive light as to 'party' with the dead, versus grimly mourning the loss.

Image Credit: Luisroj96 (wikimedia.org)

Image Credit: Luisroj96 (wikimedia.org)


Food is a very big part of most Latin celebrations and Dia de los Muertos is no exception. Check out these delicious dishes (and drink) below - the perfect items to bring to that costume party you were invited to this year. Fair warning, you might be hungry after reading these recipes. Enjoy!

Pan De Muerto

Image Credit: Muy Bueno

Image Credit: Muy Bueno

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 5 to 5 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 packages active-dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole anise seed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange extract
  • Zest of one orange
  • 4 eggs
  • Orange glaze (see below) (optional)

(Recipe by Muy Bueno)

Marigold Muerte Drink

Image Credit: tikkido.com

Image Credit: tikkido.com

  • 1 oz marigold-infused simple syrup
  • 1 oz Limoncello
  •  6 oz Vinho Verde sparkling white wine
  •  ice

(Recipe by Tikkido.com)


Image Credit: tryanythingonceculinary.com

Image Credit: tryanythingonceculinary.com

  • ½ cup milk
  • one ¼ oz. packet active dry yeast
  • ¾ cups Zulka granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp. orange zest
  • 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. anise seeds
  • ¾ cup softened butter
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

(Recipe by tryanythingculinary.com)


Very common during Halloween, horror movies are a great way to get that adrenaline pumping while snacking on the couch. You may have seen a few horror movies in your lifetime, but have you seen them en Español? These teeth-clenching, edge-of-your-seat films are popular among Latin thrill-watchers and we hope you like them...if you can handle the suspense. Click each image to watch the corresponding trailer for each horror flick.


Think you know your Day of the Dead vocabulary? Test your skills with these Spanish words and phrases below. If you don't know them yet, they are bound to impress your friends and family on Dia de los Muertos. Have a few favorites you don't see on the list? Don't forget to add them in the comment's section below and we'll continue building this list for future readers.

Elaltar de muertos - an offering prepared for a deceased person

La calavera de azúcar - a sugar skull

Las caretas - a mask worn to scare off the spirits at the end of the Dia de los Muertos celebration

Las catrinasskeletons dressed like wealthy women, which represent death

El cempasúchil - a Mexican marigold

Los gollettes - doughnut-shaped bread typically topped with pink sugar, that are placed on a shrine of a deceased person

La iluminación - a ceremony that takes place in a cemetery, during which hundreds of lit candles are believed to guide spirits to their shrines

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