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Come the beginning of November, Mexican families throw a feast and invite the dead over for dinner. Though Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is often confused with Halloween due to the proximity in time, this holiday is not about ghouls and goblins, but instead honors the dead and welcomes their souls home as a blessing.
Altars and offerings are a way to remember family members who have passed into the afterlife. In this culture, the lines between life and death are blurred and the acceptance of mortality becomes a liberation from fear. Indeed, life and death live on parallel planes in Mexico. This beautiful festival has a profound life lesson that transcends life itself.
Another tradition that has spread beyond Mexico is elaborate face painting. In the tradition of the sugar skulls, people paint their faces like the calaveras and processions become a dance of the living dead. The Aztecs believed that death was an awakening or rebirth. The symbolism of skulls is a powerful one and signifies the power of death as a vehicle for transformation to a higher level of consciousness.