What is Day of the Dead or, Dia de los Muertos? At the time of the Spanish conquest, the Catholic feast of All Saints Day (November 1st) was combined with the traditions and festivities that were long-time customs of the indigenous people. While traditions may have changed in different geographical locations, the religious (Catholic) fact is that November 1st is All Saints Day and November 2nd is All Souls Day.
Our current Dia de los Muertos has evolved from these traditions. You may see people decorating an altar in their home with sugar skulls, flowers, candles and photos of those who have passed. I'll be looking for celebrants in the local Catholic cemetery where it is traditional to clean and decorate the graves of family members.
A wonderful place to be during Dia de los Muertos is in Oaxaca, Mexico where the festivities take on a colorful carnival atmosphere. If you can't be in Mexico during the colorful and reverent display of love for the departed, you can enjoy these festivities in the American southwest.
Tucson: The weird and wonderful All Souls Procession is not to be missed. The University area and downtown area will be alive with the departed, ghosts and skeletons in a procession where visitors can join in. The All Souls Procession weekend is November 2nd and 3rd, 2013.