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Dia de los Muertos: Home


Explore books, streaming videos, databases, and more from the SCC library to learn about Dia de los Muertos.

What is Dia de los Muertos?

What is Día de los Muertos?

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a national holiday in Mexico and is observed in Hispanic communities throughout the U.S. Many Mexicans believe that the spirits of the dead return to enjoy a visit with their friends and relatives on this day. Long before sunrise, people stream into the cemeteries laden with candles, flowers, and food that is often shaped and decorated to resemble the symbols of death. Children eat tiny chocolate hearses, sugar funeral wreaths, and candy skulls and coffins. But the atmosphere is festive.

In many homes people set up ofrendas, or altars, to the departed. These are decked with lighted candles, special foods, and whatever the dead enjoyed when they were alive.

Source: Día De Los muertos. (2018). In P. Jaikumar (Ed.), Holidays Around the World. Omnigraphics. Image Credit: Mayanader's PNG Images


Browse selected titles below from the SCC Library then search for more print books and ebooks.

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Day of the Dead in the USA

"Day of the Dead," or "el Dia de los Muertos," is a centuries-old Latin American tradition involving grave care, altars, and festive meals. Since the 1970s, it has gained popularity in the US, thanks to Latino activists and artists. Regina M. Marchi's book delves into the ritual's cultural significance and its impact on mainstream society, highlighting its role in building community and conveying diverse messages.

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Death and Dying in Hispanic Worlds

This book explores the contrast between intellectual examination and emotional grieving regarding death and dying. It emphasizes how cultural differences shape these concepts, including language and philosophy. Binary distinctions such as reason vs. faith and beliefs about the body and soul play a significant role, with a focus on Mexico's Dia de los Muertos within Hispanic cultural traditions.

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Days of Death, Days of Life

Kristin Norget's research delves into death rituals in impoverished Oaxacan neighborhoods near the southern Mexican city of Oaxaca. Norget highlights the profound connection perceived between the living and the deceased in Oaxacan culture, arguing that these rituals, separate from Catholicism, promote ethical values of fairness, egalitarianism, and inclusivity among the underprivileged.

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Celebrating Latino Folklore: Dia de los Muertos

"Celebrating Latino Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Cultural Traditions" explores the rich and diverse world of Latino folklore in the United States. It covers various aspects of Latino cultural traditions, from Día de los Muertos to dance, food, and clothing, encompassing the heritage of Latin Americans from multiple countries. 

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Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Holidays

This encyclopedia provides descriptions of celebrations around the world of some 30 holidays and festivals, including Dia de los Muertos.

Check Out These Books from the SCC Library

Dia de Los Muertos

El Día de Muertos, Day of the Dead, is here--a holiday for celebrating the lives of departed family and friends. Altars are decorated with sugar skulls and marigolds. Tamales and sweets are ready to eat. Soon it will be time for picnics, music, and a costume parade! Come join in these joyful and vibrant festivities that are a tradition in Mexico, the United States, and throughout Latin America.

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Day of the Dead in the USA, 2nd Edition

Honoring relatives by tending graves, building altars, and cooking festive meals for El Dia de los Muertos, has enjoyed renewed popularity since the 1970s when LatinX activists and artists began expanding it north of the border. Focusing on the power of public ritual to serve as a communication medium, this book is a testament to the complex role of media and commercial forces in constructions of ethinic identity.

Day of the Dead: 20 Creative Projects to Make for Your Celebration

Let yourself be inspired by the rituals, flavors, motifs and costumes of Mexico's Day of the Dead festival. Create your own celebration with these gorgeous handcrafted decorations, stylish makeup designs and accessories, and delicious recipes.

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Dining with the Dead

Dining with the Dead is an unforgettable cultural and culinary odyssey. Traditional, celebratory Mexican food is the soul of this one-of-a-kind cookbook. Make tamales, pozoles, pan de muerto, and many other festive, iconic dishes. Learn about altars, sugar skulls, and decorations. 

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The Day of the Dead: A Visual Compendium

"The Day of the Dead" is a visual anthology celebrating Mexico's unique tradition of honoring the deceased. Rooted in a blend of pre-Christian and Christian customs, it showcases artistic representations, from iconic skulls by José Guadalupe Posada to works by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. This anthology explores how Mexicans embrace mortality with joy, imagination, and festive gatherings.

Our Day of the Dead Celebration

A family honors their living and dead relatives as they celebrate this holiday with shared food and stories. The Day of the Dead is a happy day when Mar's family gathers together. There are favorite dishes to enjoy, games to be played, and most importantly, stories to tell. No one in the family is forgotten because this is the day of the year when the dead come to visit the living-and for this holiday it is almost as if they're alive again, as the family takes great joy in celebrating the things that made them special.

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Day of the Dead: When Two Worlds Meet in Oaxaca

This book covers the preparations, private gatherings, and cemetery celebrations, featuring voices of those with long-standing traditions. It clarifies that there are no ghosts, only the return of loved ones' souls. This beautifully illustrated work provides a deep understanding of Oaxacan culture, making the Day of the Dead accessible and logical.

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Funny Bones

This ALA/ALSC Notable Children's Book Funny Bones tells the story of how calaveras came to be. 

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Día de Muertos Números: A Day of the Dead Counting Book

A bilingual picture book centering on a Día de Muertos ofrenda (Day of the Dead altar), constructed annually to honor the memory and welcome the spirit of a loved one. 

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Digging the Days of the Dead: A Reading of Mexico's Dias de Muertos

In "Digging the Days of the Dead," Juanita Garciagodoy explores this family reunion where deceased loved ones are honored with favorite foods, gifts, and ritual items. The book delves into the evolution of this celebration, including its Prehispanic and Catholic influences, folk versions, and contemporary significance in Mexico. Garciagodoy also analyzes lively skeleton imagery, gender, class, identity politics, and the contrast between Mexican and U.S. attitudes towards death.

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A child and their family observe the customs of Día de los Angelitos, one of the ritual celebrations of Día de Muertos, to celebrate the life of their beloved dog who passed away. They build a thoughtful ofrenda to help lead the pet's soul home and help the little one process their grief in this moving reminder that loved ones are never really gone if we take the time to remember them.

Watch Streaming Videos from the SCC Library

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Festivals: Day of the Dead, Mexico

This film showcases Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations that unite the living and the dead in feasting, dancing and decoration. In Oaxaca City, local artists create sand tapestries and enter an altar competition. Families gather at the public cemetery to clean the graves of loved ones and make offerings. In Etla, muerteadas, or street parades, last all night as rival bands engage in mock battles. Join a local family for a traditional lunch of chicken and mole, and learn about Aztec and Spanish religious customs that blended to form today’s Día de los Muertos festival of remembrance.

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PBS Craft in America: Altarista Ofelia Esparza

Tonalli Studios manufactures altars for Dia de los Muertos. Esparza discusses the three deaths and learning flower-making. Day of the Dead invites the souls of those who have passed away to visit; U.S. public celebrations originated at Self Help Graphics and Art.

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National Geographic The Mexicans: Through Their Eyes

El dia de los muertos is the day the souls of the dead travel home to the living. Mexicans welcome the opportunity to be close to their loved ones again. 

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PBS Dia de Los Muertos

Latino rock greats Los Lobos, Ozomatli and Flor de Toloache lead this musical celebration of this fiesta celebrated by people of Mexican heritage everywhere. Taped before a live audience in the “underworld” of The Caverns subterranean amphitheater, Dia de los Muertos! is a high-energy offering to celebrate a wonderful, ancient tradition.

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Mexico: Rendezvous with the Dead

In this program, we head to Michoacán, one of the most picturesque regions of Mexico, where we immerse ourselves in the festivities of Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead). Agricultural activities, rituals, displays of skills, culinary traditions all teach us about the ancient customs attached to this important ritual.

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My Americas Mexico: Day of the Dead

In this My Americas episode, Roberto travels to Oaxaca to discover one of Mexico’s most defining and colorful feasts, celebrated every year on November 2nd. His search takes him from markets to the pre-Columbian ruins of Monte Albán and Mitla, an ornate Dominican church, and to the home of a Zapotec family of rug weavers. He learns about the family’s art, their daily struggles, their traditions, and the importance of Day of the Dead in their life. Roberto ends his adventure with a midnight stroll in a candlelit cemetery where families remember their deceased loved ones.

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Globe Trekker Ultimate Mexico - Day of the Dead

The Day of the Dead celebrates deceased family members with offerings of sugar skulls and other treats. Globe Trekker visits a cemetery with a local family to reflect with ancestors.

Library Databases For Researching Dia De Los Muertos

Find articles, images, and more in these library databases. 

General Research Resources