Day of the Dead

November 1 and 2 is Day of the Dead – Dia de los Muertos – a holiday celebrated in Mexico, Central America, and Hispanic communities around the United States.

Families remember and honor deceased relatives with special foods, flowers (marigolds), candles, photos, skeletons arranged on altars (ofrendas) in homes.

In 2020, we join with everyone around the world who has lost beloved family members.


Homes are decorated with happy skeletons calacas that represent favorite activities of the dead. Skeletons may be assembled into small dioramas (nichos). Larger version of skeletons are created for altars or carried in processions.


Holiday foods


Special foods are part of the holiday, including the this pan de muertos (bread of the dead), a sweet bread with lots of pink or white sugar on top. It’s also delicious with Mexican hot chocolate.


Children’s books


Day of the Dead children’s books to read about the holiday:

  • The Day of the Dead – El Dia de los Muertos by Bob Barner
  • Charming introduction to Day of the Dead, in Spanish and English. Two children prepare for the holiday, and then under the moon glowing bright, they dance and sing. Beautiful paper collage illustrations. (Picture book)
  • Day of the Dead Activity Book by Karl Jones, Steve Simpson
  • Learn about Day of the Dead traditions, fold together an ofrenda (altar), make papel picado and marigold decorations, decorate Day of the Dead masks, recipes for sugar skulls and graveyard cakes, stickers with dancing skeletons, sugar skulls flowers, decorations. (Activity book)
  • The Spirit of Tio Fernando by Janice Levy
  • On the Day of the Dead, as Nando and his mother prepare to go to the cemetery, Nando wonders how he will know his Tio Fernando’s spirit. Nando goes to the market to buy things to remind him of his uncle – bread of the dead, marzipan candy, an orange and black paper goblin. Story in English and Spanish. (Illustrated chapter book)
  • Calavera Abecedario by Jeanette Winter
  • Day of the Dead from A to Z with colorful calaveras – an angel sits on a pink cloud, a bruja (witch) stirs the pot, a candelera (candlemaker) sells her candles, it’s a fiesta with all the dancing calaveras. Bright illustrations in a folk-art style. (Picture book)
  • Day of the Dead by Tony Johnston and Jeanette Winter
  • A small town in Mexico prepares for El Dia de los Muertos. Mama cooks empanadas and pan de muertos, uncles and aunts gather fruits and grind chilies, the whole family makes tamales. When night comes, everyone carries food and marigolds to the cemetery, and they sing, dance and eat. (Picture book)
  • Dia de los Muertos by Hannah Eliot, Jorge Gutierrez
  • It’s time for Dia de los Muertos, the holiday that honors departed loved ones, celebrated with bright colored decorations (papel de picado), sugar skulls, paper mache skeletons, music, special foods. (Board book)