For the past two days, people in Mexico and other Latin American countries have been celebrating Día de Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, paying homage to departed family members and honoring death as a part of life. The parades feature representations of the character La Catrina, frightful skeletons, and other icons of death and the underworld. Gathered here are a few images from Mexico, Peru, the U.S., and more.
On this day, it is believed that the souls of the dead return to visit their living family members. Many people celebrate this day by visiting the graves of deceased loved ones and setting up altars with their favorite foods, drink, and photos. Plans for Day of the Dead are made throughout the year. Toys are offered to dead children and bottles of alcohol or jars of alote get offered to dead adults. Most families decorate their loved ones’ graves with ofrendas, which often includes marigolds. It’s said that these specific flowers attract the souls of the dead to the offerings, and the bright petals and strong scent guides the souls from the cemetery to their family’s home.
La Catrina is one of the most recognizable figures of Day of the Dead, a towering female skeleton with vibrant make up and a flamboyant feathery hat. The Lady of Death worshipped by the Aztecs protected their departed loved ones, guiding them through their final stages of the life and death cycles. La Catrina that we know today came to be in the early 1900s by controversial and political cartoonist José Guadalupe Posada. Artist and husband of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, included José’s La Catrina in one of his murals which depicted 400 years of Mexican history. His mural, “Dreams of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park”, includes himself and a young child holding hands with La Catrina, who is dressed in sophisticated garb and a fancy feathered hat.