What is Día de los Muertos?

November 1, 2013    |    By +
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Día de los Muertos is a 3,000-year-old Aztec and Mexican holiday that falls on Nov. 1 and 2, where friends and family honor the deceased and welcome the temporary return of their spirits. Día de los Muertos is celebrated in connection with the Catholic holidays All Saints’ Day (which falls on Nov. 1, and is specifically for deceased children, considered angelitos, angels) and All Souls’ Day, on Nov. 2. During this observation, altars (altares de muertos) are filled with offerings (ofrendas) for the dead, such as candles, incense, bright orange marigolds, fresh fruits, toys, and other things they enjoyed while they were alive, as well as photos of the departed. Sugar skulls (calaveras de azúcar) are kind of like the mascot of Día de los Muertos. They are a symbol of death and the afterlife, and are often used to decorate altars and given as gifts on this holiday, especially to children. Legend has it that the monarch butterflies that migrate to Mexico this time of year are actually the souls of the deceased returning to earth. If you want to incorporate this holiday into your fall festivities, here are a few gifts inspired by Día de los Muertos.

An activity book ($8.58) guides the reader through the history and culture surrounding Day of the Dead, and features puzzles, maps and press-out forms.



Check out these Day of the Dead iron-on transfer patterns ($8.06) at Amazon.com. You can put these colorful images on anything from T-shirts to table cloths to tote bags with the 40 images that are included.




You may not have the skills to make your own sugar skulls, but this Day Of The Dead Sugar Skull Money Bank ($14.99) from will give any surface the Day of the Dead vibe and help you save your pennies.



A Lucky Skull teapot ($24.99) resembles a calaveras de azucar, but won’t melt when you put hot tea into it.



For more details, read my recent article on The Huffington Post. And for gift ideas for all occasions, from the birth of a baby to a 90th birthday, visit Gifts.com.


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Kathryn D.W.
Kathryn Drury Wagner is the senior manager of content at Gifts.com. She was formerly the executive editor at Honolulu Magazine, and is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Shopping on Oahu. Her career has included staff positions at Country Living Gardener and Power & Motoryacht. Her latest book is "Hawaii's Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever!"

Gwen P.
Gwen is the Editorial Curator at Gifts.com. In addition to writing blogs, she creates gift guides, curates the site, and produces content for our social media channels. As a freelance writer, she created blogs on fashion, art, travel, health and lifestyle. A talented jewelry designer, she's also a yogi and a hospital volunteer with her therapy dog, Lilo, a Pomeranian.