Dia de Muertos is right around the corner

In Mexico, Day of the Dead—or Día de los Muertos—celebrates life.

With spirited traditions that largely take place across Mexico, Latin America, and the United States, family and friends come together to honor their lost loved ones on November 1 and 2. Traditions include gathering at cemeteries to enjoy traditional foods like pan de muerto (bread of the dead) and calaveras (sugar skulls), dressing up in eye-catching costumes, and assembling colorful floral decorations, which often include symbolic marigolds.

“This tradition is rooted in the native Mexican belief that life on earth is a preparation for the next world and of the importance of maintaining a strong relationship with the dead,” Juan Aguirre, Executive Director of the Mexican culture non-profit Mano a Mano tells Oprah Daily.

But what is at the heart of these beloved festivities? Here’s a look at the Day of the Dead’s rich history, and some facts you might not have known about the Mexican holiday.

“It’s not a funeral. It’s not morbid, and it’s not about being spooky. It’s about joy and color and flavor and celebration, all the mixed emotions,” James Beard Award-winning chef Pati Jinich adds.”It’s a very Mexican thing to have extreme sadness with extreme joy at the same time.”

Here’s a look at the Day of the Dead’s rich history, and some facts you might not have known about the Mexican holiday.

Día de los Muertos is not a somber occasion.

During the ancient Mexican holiday, it’s believed that spirits of the dead momentarily return to the land of the living, for a brief reunion. The community looks at death as an opportunity for renewed life.

Day of the Dead is celebrated with parades, festivals, and more across Mexico.

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