Photo by Suzanne Barbezat
If you didn't grow up with the tradition of Day of the Dead, it may be difficult to understand this Mexican holiday. Images of skulls, skeletons and coffins strike many as morbid, and the fact that they are portrayed in a playful way may be even more baffling. Some people don't really grasp the meaning of the holiday until they've experienced it in Mexico. Others may feel an immediate connection with the customs surrounding Day of the Dead, and incorporate its traditions into their own lives. To grasp the meaning of this holiday, it helps to understand its origins and history, which you can read about here: Day of the Dead Origins and History.
Of course, Day of the Dead celebrations entail a vocabulary that may be unfamiliar. Even Spanish-speakers may feel out of their depth with words like Hanal Pixan, Xantolo and cempasuchitl. Here's a list of words with their definitions, to help you brush up on your Day of the Dead vocabulary.