Dia de los Muertos has exploded in popularity even though honoring the departed is serious cultural & historical stuff. With it's spectacular festivities, extravagant face paintings, costumes and all things sugar & skulls, it's also a particularly good time.
On the Spanish conquest of Mexico, the church gave the directive to eradicate the “pagan” practices of honoring ancestors this way – under severe punishment and torture – the Mexicans, fiercely loyal to their traditions, continued.
For centuries Mexico has fought to maintain and cultivate their unique and intimate relationship with death.
The multi-day holiday focuses on gatherings of family to remember & support the spirits of deceased friends and family members.
So that, today, the key elements of the celebration between November 1st & 2nd include cemetery vigils, the erection of home altars, the preparation and presentation of special sweets, flowers, candles and food to the dead.
It's so ingrained in Mexican culture that UNESCO anointed it an intangible cultural heritage of humanity. The Huff Post says this animated Film School Short is the perfect description of what Dia de los Muertos really means.