Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday that celebrates the lives of those who have passed away. The belief is that on the Day of the Dead, the souls of the departed have a chance to come back — communicate, and visit with their loved ones.

The tradition goes back to the time of the Aztecs, and has since spread throughout other places around the world. It coincides with other faith traditions that honor the dead (All Saints Day, and All Souls Day in the Catholic tradition, for example). Dia de los Muertos was made a national holiday in Mexico in the 1960s.

On these “Days of the Dead,” graves are decorated, and altars are constructed in people’s homes to remember their deceased family members. and for adults they leave food, favorite possessions and alcohol at elaborate homemade altars (called ofrendas).

November 1 is reserved for remembering the lives of children who have died, and according to MexConnect.com, "referred to Día de los Inocentes ("Day of the Innocents") but also as Día de los Angelitos ("Day of the Little Angels”.)" To honor these children, people often leave out toys and calaveras (a skull made of sugar — the most iconic symbol of the holiday).

Credit: Jorge Salgado/Thinkstock

The second day of the festival is reserved for honoring the lives of adults who have passed on. They are bestowed gifts of food and alcohol at the altars.

The James Bond film Spectre famously portrayed a Day of the Dead parade, but in reality, a parade was never part of the tradition — Day of the Dead is typically an intimate holiday that takes place inside the home. 

The first ever Day of the Dead parade was held in Mexico City last weekend.