Day of the Dead is today and tomorrow (November 1-2).
It is my favorite holiday.
I won’t go into the history of the tradition, or into the various ways Day of the Dead/Night of the Dead (Dia de los muertos/Noche de los muertos) plays out in different parts of Mexico and the United States. If you’re interested (and it is interesting), do some googling and read about the holiday on Wikipedia.
The first time I experienced Day of the Dead was actually my first visit to Mexico. I was staying with some friends, and we made our own ofrenda. The ofrenda is basically a shrine. Usually each deceased person gets their own ofrenda, but we combined all our efforts into a mega-ofrenda-of-awesome, and used it together.
That year, we printed out photos of family and friends who had passed recently, or whose passing was long ago but still heavy in our hearts. I had just lost a childhood friend to some bullshit war she shouldn’t have been in. I printed her photo and put it on our shrine.
The thing I love about this tradition is that it isn’t about mourning. It’s about celebrating and remembering. Even now, years after that my first Day of the Dead down in Mexico, I remember my friend and celebrate her life. And I have new losses to remember. Day of the Dead keeps these people in my heart in a happy way.