Day of the Dead
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
In Mexico, where the holiday originated, the holiday has ancient Aztec and Mesoamerican roots, and is a national holiday. The Day of the Dead is also celebrated to a lesser extent in other Latin American countries; for example, it is a public holiday in Brazil, where many Brazilians celebrate it by visiting cemeteries and churches. The holiday is also observed in the Philippines. Observance of the holiday has spread to Mexican-American communities in the United States, where in some locations, the traditions are being extended. Similarly-themed celebrations also appear in some Asian and African cultures.
Though the subject matter may be considered morbid from the perspective of some other cultures, celebrants typically approach the Day of the Dead joyfully, and though it occurs at the same time as Halloween, All Saints' Day and All Souls Day, the traditional mood is much brighter with emphasis on celebrating and honoring the lives of the deceased, and celebrating the continuation of life; the belief is not that death is the end, but rather the beginning of a new stage in life.