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Day of the Dead: Sugar Skulls And A Time For Healing


Karen Castillo Farfán/NPR

Skeletons: Skeleton imagery pervades this holiday. In pre-Columbian times, the Day of the Dead was celebrated in August. It now takes place on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2, coinciding with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.

It’s that time of year again.

Yes, Nevada Day and Halloween are tomorrow, but it’s also time to observe another holiday with death-related imagery and a remembrance of the past. 

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a festival with roots in ancient Aztec culture and it’s observed on November 1 and 2. 

While Halloween presents death as a scary thing, Day of the Dead festivities celebrate death – more specifically, those who are dead. 

Erika Borges with Clark County Parks and Recreation told KNPR's State of Nevada the two-day holiday is observed in Mexico by visiting and cleaning grave sites and spending time with the departed.  

Families also build altars to honor deceased loved ones. For many, it is a religous holiday and prayers are said before an altar is built.

"My parents are from Yucatan," Borges says. "The Mayans actually practiced getting the bones out and cleaning them. And as they clean the bones of the people who have passed, they say the rosaries and they put [the bones] in a brand new box."

Aside from the traditional crosses, sugar skulls, candles and flowers, an altar will also contain freshly prepared foods that the dead person loved in life.

"I always make sure that my grandmother has a Pepsi on her altar," Borges said. 

Support comes from

The Life in Death Festival has marked the Day of the Dead in Clark County for 15 years. Last year, about 9,000 people participated in altar-building, workshops, art and live entertainment.

This year's event is at the Winchester Cultural Center on Sunday and Monday.


Erika Borges, Cultural Program Specialist, Clark County Parks and Recreation

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