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The Day of the Dead festival takes place from Halloween until the night of the 2nd November, and this most Mexican of events is best experienced in Oaxaca.
The sentiment is extremely poignant - that the dead are never truly gone until the last of the their descendants forgets about them, so families congregate around the tombs and graves of their ancestors as the souls of the deceased return to earth to be with their families and loved ones.
Halloween is seen as 'fun and games' whereas the 1st and 2nd of November are far more serious, and in keeping with the importance of food in Mexican culture, the favourite meal of the deceased is often laid by the grave. Body paint and imagery of skulls and bones are often important in many areas of Mexico as well.
The Day of the Dead Celebrations in Mexico are of such cultural importance, that UNESCO have included the festival on their list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Will, Original Traveller