How to Celebrate Brazil's Day of the Dead

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The Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is often thought of as a Mexican holiday that is typically celebrated on November 1 and 2. However, the holiday is also observed in many other Latin and South American countries, including Brazil. The Day of the Dead in Brazil is called Dia de Finados.

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Dia de los Muertos

The Day of the Dead is associated with the Catholic All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2. The holiday is influenced by the traditions of the Aztecs and other indigenous people. Rather than being a sad day of mourning, Dia de los Muertos is a celebration of those who have passed. Many believe that the dead awaken to enjoy the celebration.

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In Mexico, people will decorate for the festivities, often with calacas, or skeletons, and calaveras, or skulls. They will also decorate and clean up the graves of family members and create an altar with offerings, such as food and photographs, to guide the dead. Celebrations include music, food and time with family.

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Day of the Dead in Brazil

In Brazil, All Souls' Day, or Finados, is observed on November 2. While street parties and festivals aren't as common for this holiday, you may find them in some cities. If you are visiting the country, keep in mind that it is a national holiday, so many businesses may be closed for the day.

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It tends to be a more somber, religious day to remember the dead as opposed to a holiday with celebrations and festivals. People will generally attend a mass and pray for the dead.

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The day also includes a visit to the graves of family members, where people place flowers and candles at the graves. Red, yellow and white chrysanthemums are the most popular flower for this. Some observe the day with solitary contemplation and spiritual practice, although many times, families and friends gather for a meal.

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Celebrations in Other Countries

In what countries is the Day of the Dead celebrated? The holiday is celebrated in countries around the world, not just in Mexico and Brazil. In Ecuador and Peru, the holiday is called El Día de los Difuntos. In Ecuador, families celebrate by gathering for a meal and drinks. Peruvian families gather for a meal on November 1 and then visit the cemeteries on November 2.

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In El Salvador, the celebration is called La Calabiuza, and people may celebrate by parading through the city with dressed-up skeletons. The festival of the dead is called Fête Gede in Haiti. Celebrations may have voodoo influences, and people gather to sing, dance, drink and perform rituals.

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Day of the Dead celebrations are not limited to the Americas. In the Philippines, the holiday is called Undás. Families gather to clean up and decorate graves and share a meal. In Spain, the holiday Todos Los Santos is observed on November 1. This is not a festive holiday. People visit cemeteries of loved ones and enjoy a traditional marzipan dish called huesos de santo.

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