The Mexican Day of the Dead – Día de los Muertos — is a festive and celebrative time. It is a holiday with a complex history and fusion of old traditions. This view of death started with Mesoamerican cultures such as the Olmecs more than 3,000 years ago. Mesoamericans believed that during this time of the year, the boundaries that separate the living and the dead weaken and that the deceased could visit the living. Unlike the Spaniards, who viewed death as the end of life, the natives viewed it as the continuation of life, as a blend together cycle. Instead of fearing death, they embraced it. To them, life was a dream and only in death did they become truly awake.The holiday is traditionally celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. Because it is a holiday with a complex history, its observance varies from region to region and also by degree of urbanization. In the small towns of Mexico a candlelight procession to the cemetery is held by most of the families on the eve of the celebration. At the gravesites family members spruce up the gravesite, decorate it with flowers and enjoy a meal. Offerings are brought to the graves and include the favorite foods, beverages, toys, and personal belongings of the departed so that they might enjoy them again. Family members spend the night at the cemetery and share the memory of their loved ones by telling stories about them. The celebration is not a mournful one, but rather a time to share with family and friends and to visit with the souls of the departed. The warm communal environment, the colorful setting, and the abundance of food, drink and the presence of friends and family members has pleasant overtones for most observers. This festive interaction between the living and the dead is a way of celebrating that life was and still is shared with the departed and is also recognition of the cycle of life and death. This cycle is the cycle of all forms of existence.

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