Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is a traditional Mexican holiday that blends the religious imports of Catholic Spain with indigenous spiritual practices of the ancient Americas. Families build lavishly decorated home altars on which they place ofrendas (offerings) to deceased loved ones, including the person's favorite foods, framed photographs, decorative breads, playful sugar skulls and pungent bouquets of orange or yellow marigolds. Similar altars are erected in the town cemetery, where the living conduct an all-night vigil on Nov. 1, inviting the deceased spirits to share one last feast.
This is a great time of year to learn more about Mexican culture, eat some fantastic traditional foods and take some brilliant photos. Look for some of the traditional handicrafts sold during the Day of the Dead, like the famous catrinas -- stately skeletons in elaborate dresses -- or the increasingly creative and colorful collection of sugar skulls and figurines. Larger Hispanic communities also hold Day of the Dead parades, the perfect place to snap pics of a wild-eyed diablo or a skeleton family on the town.