When: November 1 and 2
Where: Mexico
Cost: Free

Escape the usual tacky and commercialised Halloween celebrations in Malta by heading to Mexico for an authentically joyous and touching celebration.

Across the country, local people remember their ancestors on El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) by decorating the cemeteries and praying, singing, eating and drinking their way through the night.

The festival’s origins lie in pre-Hispanic Mexico, when a month was dedicated to commemorating the spirits of the dead. After Christianisation, it was moved from July/August to coincide with the Christian feast days of All Saints Day and All Souls Day in November.

In most of Mexico there are two days of the dead: the Día de los Angelitos on November 1, dedicated to the souls of children who have died; and Día de Los Muertos on November 2, dedicated to the spirits of the adult dead.

Often cemeteries are decorated weeks in advance and the favourite food and drink of the deceased are left there, along with photographs of them.

On the Día de los Angelitos, cherished toys and other objects are brought out and placed on altars in the home. The spirits of the little-ones are invited to come and take part in the feast, and often a place is set for them at the table.

The second day is the main day of the celebration, and is marked with colourful events in main squares, public buildings, museums, restaurants and many theatres. There is a traditional communion meal in the evening.

You’ll also find public altars throughout the towns and cities, along with flower offerings, concerts and the wafts of chicken with chocolate and tomato mole sauce.

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