Day of the Dead, although known as a Mexican event, is also celebrated throughout South America. It is a striking annual celebration in which the indigenous people honour their deceased loved ones.
The belief, which dates back to the Aztecs, is that the gates of heaven open at midnight on the 31st of October allowing the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) to reunite with their families for twenty four hours and then the spirits of the adults come down on the 2nd of November to enjoy the festivities prepared for them.
The act of celebration involves decorating the altars with candles, buckets of colourful flowers, handmade art, bowels of fruit and traditional foods such as pan de muerto (a large Day of the Dead loaf). Typically sweets and toys are left out for the angelitos while cigarettes and shots of mezcal are left out for the adult spirits.
The event climaxes on the final day (02 November) when everyone takes to the cemetery to clean the redecorated the graves.
Nowadays the Carnivalesque remembrance is far from bizarre and grisly-sounding, but one of the world’s most universally familiar festivals with the iconic, beautifully illustrated skulls and vibrant flower wreath headdresses.