The Day of the Dead in Oaxaca, and indeed throughout all of Mexico, is a celebration of those who have passed into the netherworld. For two days, the souls of the dead are believed to be allowed to return to this mortal plane to commune with loved ones. Similar to Halloween, Day of the Dead in Oaxaca is appointed a ghostly theme, but instead of scary banshees and phantoms frightening people into their homes, the population of Mexico brings out candles to light the way, hoping to visit with relatives and friends whom they have yearned to hug once again.
Additionally, delicious foods and delectable treats are prepared to invite these ethereal friends. A popular candy for Day of the Dead in Oaxaca is made in the shape of and decorated like a skull. It is a joyous celebration of two days, the first on which the spirits of children arrive and the second on which the spirits of adults join them. Folks gather in cemeteries and homes, eating, drinking, and sharing stories and memories. In preparation of the Day of the Dead, many activities and errands are completed with excitement, such as cooking special sweet bread, known as "pan de muerto"; preparing desserts; picking flowers, especially marigolds; decorating graves; and building alters in or around the home. This is an especially important celebration in Oaxaca and Mexico, as it not only signifies a reunion of departed souls and human loved ones, but the beauty of life and death and the soul’s journey through this life and the next, making it a significant part of the Mexican culture.