Day of the Dead Activities

The Day of the Dead is a Mexican and Mexican-American holiday whose intricate history is intertwined with the history of Mexican culture.

The Day of the Dead ( Día de los Muertos) is a Mexican and Mexican American holiday whose intricate history is intertwined with the history of Mexico and Mexican culture. The Day of the Dead is practiced on November 1st and 2nd, during which the graves of loved ones are decorated, special foods like mole and pan de muerto are made, ofrendas are built to honor the dead, and special festivals and processions are held. “La Muerte” from Roy Lozano’s Ballet Folklorico de Texas, The Day of the Dead Event, Paramount Theatre, 1985, black and white photograph, Mexic-Arte Museum Permanent Collection.

The Day of the Dead has its origins in ancient Mesoamerican cultures that blended with those of the Spanish, who arrived in Mexico in the early 1500s. During the early twentieth century, Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada popularized the skeleton images associated with the holiday by his humorous drawings of calaveras, and thereby established a uniquely Mexican style of art. Later, the Chicano Movement embraced the holiday as way to recover pre-Hispanic and Mexican identities. Today, the Day of the Dead continues to be celebrated by Mexicans and Mexican Americans across Mexico and the United States every November.

  • November 1: All Saints’ Day (prayers said to saints and martyrs)
  • November 1: Día de los Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels, dedicated to souls of deceased children)
  • November 2: All Souls’ Day (prayers and offerings made to deceased relatives and friends, especially for souls in Purgatory)

During this yearly event, cemeteries are cleaned. Home and public altars or ofrendas (offerings) are built to honor the dead, who they attract with food, drink, candles, incense, marigold flowers, and objects once favored in their lives.

Day of the Dead Art Activities

Celebrate the holiday at your home with kid-friendly activities that can be used in your family’s altar.

Activity 1
Day of the Dead Papel Picado

Papel Picado

Activity 2
Day of the Dead Marigolds

Paper Marigolds

Activity 3
Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls

Sugar Skulls

Activity 4
Day of the Dead Paper Skull

Paper Skull