How to Celebrate Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

By Yvette Marquez
Created January 10, 2017
Honor the memory of loved ones lost with a traditional Día de los Muertos celebration. MORE+ LESS-
How to Celebrate Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

Día de los Muertos is a Mexican spiritual holiday dedicated to honoring the departed. At first glance, you might think that with all the skulls and ghoulish makeup, Dia de los Muertos is a gruesome, scary or sad holiday, but in fact, it's the complete opposite! Our Día de los Muertos celebration is traditionally a happy affair, during which we remember loved ones who have passed away, celebrating their lives and remembering the joy they brought us.

candied sweet potatoes

This year, I used this occasion to make Camotes Enmielado (Candied Sweet Potatoes) with my daughter, a traditional dessert my grandma used to make. As we made this recipe together, my daughter and I talked about departed friends and family, including my maternal grandmother who passed away in 2004 at the age of 98 and my paternal grandmother who just recently passed away at the age of 92.


At our Day of the Dead dinner, I served Chicken Tinga Tostadas along with the sweet potatoes I made with my daughter, and my hubby and I enjoyed dramatic La Llorona cocktails, a recipe with a fascinating history. As we ate dinner we talked all about the sweet memories of those who are gone as we passed around old family photos. The occasion may be called the Day of the Dead, but it’s a magnificent celebration of life like no other.


It is believed that the dead return home and visit loved ones, feast on their favorite foods and listen to their favorite music. In our home we honor them with ofrendas or offerings, which may consist of photographs, bread, foods, flowers, and other symbolic offerings, also displayed on our buffet.

How to Celebrate Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

If you’ve never celebrated Día de Los Muertos I highly recommend it. It is an indescribable and peaceful feeling honoring the memory of those we have lost. Here is a simple plan for celebrating this holiday: 

  • Create an altar with lots of bright marigold flowers
  • Place photographs of your deceased loved ones
  • Prepare food and drink that reminds you of them
  • Place candles on the altar to be lit during your celebration
  • Play their favorite music
  • Retell stories of the deceased to those in attendance