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November 2, 2009 Permalink

Days of the Dead

From October 31st through November 2nd, a number of festivals, holidays and solemnities take place, all loosely related and revolving around remembrance of the dead. Halloween, Samhain, All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day, the Day of the Dead and other festivals trace their origins back to Celtic, Aztec, Roman and Christian traditions. Halloween is largely a secular observation these days, All Souls and All Saints remain mainly Catholic observations, and the Day of the Dead is still largely a Latin American tradition, its roots in Mexico's Aztec heritage. Collected here are photographs over the past week from the varied observations of the Days of the Dead around the world. (37 photos total)

A skull covered in marigolds rests in front of a wall of graves during preparations for a massive altar in the San Fernando Cemetery in Mexico City, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009. Workers added thousands of marigolds, known in Mexico as "cempasuchil," to giant skull images Tuesday as they prepare to observe the of Day of the Dead. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
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85 comments so far...

No. 8 Did you see those two guys in the upper left? What's that all about?

Posted by Scary Spice November 2, 09 12:45 PM

People in Haiti have Blackberries?

Posted by pk November 2, 09 12:46 PM

32, la mejor de todas

Posted by sadsaa November 2, 09 12:51 PM

interesting stuff.

Posted by Andrew November 2, 09 12:56 PM

buenisimas fotografias!!

Posted by Gustavo November 2, 09 01:07 PM

No. 11 - Awesome dog costume

Posted by Mikhail November 2, 09 01:13 PM

@Scary Spice... I had the same startled reaction. However upon better inspection, I think it's the White House Chefs, not the KKK.

Posted by KiltBear November 2, 09 01:15 PM

@Scary Spice: The guys in #8 are dressed up as Secret Service agents. Chewbacca and the Stormtrooper are the the real Secret Service agents.

Posted by T-Will November 2, 09 01:18 PM

#11 Funniest costume ever! Good job as always, thanks for the pictures! :)

Posted by Stefan November 2, 09 01:32 PM

No. 8....Those are White House chefs or kitchen staff

Posted by love Halloween November 2, 09 01:34 PM

wicked set!

Posted by Eugene November 2, 09 01:34 PM

Um, did you see Michelle Obama's face in no. 8? Forget the two guys on the left. She looks like she's gonna eat that little kid.

Posted by lizzygal November 2, 09 01:43 PM

#20 - what's in the jug between the guy's legs?

Posted by James November 2, 09 02:00 PM

I missed a picture about the memorial day here in Brazil. I'm a photojournalist of a newspaper from Florianópolis (capital of Santa Catarina state, at the south region).

I've published yesterday a picture about the preparations to the memorial day (or the day of the deads) here in Brazil in my blog

Here we celebrate the the day of the deads on november 2nd and I made that (and some others) picture(s) for Notícias do Dia's newspaper in the Itacorubi's cemitery - the same name of the neighborhood where it's located.

Posted by Lucas Sampaio November 2, 09 02:03 PM

Pity that light conditions didn't allow for a bit more DOF in #19.
Great as always!

Posted by JorgeNMz November 2, 09 02:08 PM

Chewbacca at the White House!!


Posted by Cameorn Childs November 2, 09 02:31 PM

@pk, n°2:
If I understand what you mean by Blackberry (the phone which is in the middle, right?), well that's not a Blackberry.If I'm not mistaken, that's a Samsung phone developed especially for developing countries, in order for them to have access to (high) technology at a low price.

Thanks for this great serie, it gives a stunning example of the various rituals around the world. I'm particularly amazed by 22 and 27.

Posted by Eliza November 2, 09 02:37 PM

35 of the girls is really cute

Posted by Jakob November 2, 09 02:50 PM

No. 10 is the one. It's all there. A poetic picture with a (poignant) message.

A complex composition that works very well. Great shot.

Posted by Robert Zimmerman November 2, 09 03:13 PM

Ahhh no New Orleans Voodoo Music Experience? three crazy days in the big easy

Posted by zydicool November 2, 09 03:45 PM

No. 8: If Chewbacca lives at the White House, you must acquit!!

Posted by Prospectus November 2, 09 03:46 PM

Great job!! no.8 is definitely the scariest!!

Posted by Joe Bloe November 2, 09 03:52 PM

#15, Why?

Posted by bluegene November 2, 09 04:13 PM

i loved the girl with pumpkin it is awesome

Posted by Sarmed November 2, 09 04:18 PM

#15 WTF

Posted by RJ November 2, 09 04:45 PM

Maybe it's not a Blackberry. But, if it is, is it so surprising? Technology is not for America only, I guess...

Posted by Grg November 2, 09 05:06 PM

#7 would not be appropriate entertainment at the "Stumbling Drunks Tavern", much less for school children. I hope Laura Bush and other proper First Ladies never see this pure trash.

Posted by Bobert 708 November 2, 09 05:57 PM

Nice compilation, it really shows the plurality about this subject.

Posted by Luciano Stabel November 2, 09 06:02 PM

people,u are really going back to the olden days,the days of superstitions.see,the dead are in their graves.i guess it wouldnot benefit them in the least if u celebrate on their behalf,but u can help them by praying for them and that could benefit them.

Posted by help the dead not like this November 2, 09 07:17 PM

Bobert (comment 27)...that's a weird comment. Not sure of your point.
A) - proper First Ladies... how might you believe that our current First Lady is not proper (are your racist or just inappropriate and disrespectful?)
B) - You would be "proper" if you focused your comments on the photography and these great displays of Day of the Dead traditions and take your commentary elsewhere, like a political blog. Maybe you'll find better pure trash there.

Posted by Appreciative of this compilation November 2, 09 08:49 PM

@27, here's a quarter, get a sense of humor.

Posted by Eric November 2, 09 09:02 PM

@ Scary Spice (#1) mean the two chefs in the upper left of Photo 8? C'mon...stop looking for things to get excited about and enjoy the pictures. Do you really think that our president would be dumb enough to have people dressed like the KKK at their house? You're an idiot...think before you type.

Great photos from all over the world!!

Posted by Nate November 2, 09 09:41 PM

Hey Bobert708. (comment27) My guess is that YOU just got home from the "Stumbling Drunks Tavern". Your political hack blog trash is lame at best. I dare you to talk about the content of any of the other photos...go the beauty of the kites in #22 or the dedication of a Filipino family in #34 to visit a family grave in the midst of their umpteenth flood there this year or the Polish soldier in #10...Those are the things that Laura Bush and the other proper first ladies would have talked about. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to the "Happy Drunks Tavern" and raise a toast to the dead. There are so many of them who I miss. "Saude!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Great photos as usual.

Posted by franknbeans November 2, 09 10:10 PM

I hope my tax dollars didn't pay for that candy in number 8. Halloween is based on religious ideals and holidays. Why is my government participating?

Posted by NObama November 2, 09 10:11 PM

espectaculares fotos:)

Posted by jorge November 2, 09 11:07 PM


It was so nice.

Posted by RJ November 2, 09 11:34 PM
37. of the best photo collections I've ever seen!!!

Posted by Josh November 3, 09 02:09 AM

je¶li kiedy¶ bêdê mia³a dzieci to bêdê je przebieraæ za zwierz±tka i owady na codzieñ:) pozdrawiamy!

Posted by Fuji Stuff November 3, 09 03:38 AM

OMG! They've got Chewie!

Posted by ffub November 3, 09 03:53 AM

I can't believe you've posted just a few pictures of Mexico.

We have here thousands of places where the celebration is so rich and beautiful. Lots of photographers covering the events.

It's a shame.

Posted by Juanjo Gonzalez November 3, 09 04:47 AM


Posted by Alizé November 3, 09 06:30 AM

The people on the upper left of picture 8# are from the dutch television, they do commercials for food. (kroketten van Mora)

Posted by dutchguy November 3, 09 06:56 AM

pic 4 O-o-o-o-o!!! Thank Halloween Glob...

Posted by michael November 3, 09 07:18 AM

Great collection. Correction on 21 and 22. It's Vodou, or Vodoun. Voodoo is not correct. The man in #22 is possesed by the spirit of the dead called Gede or Baron. It is not a performance.

Posted by Kiki November 3, 09 08:49 AM

You miss the celebration in Janitzio Michoacan México, wich is so special. ...Nice photos, thanks for this collection, is amazing how the world remember his deads......19 my favourite...

Posted by Hoanho November 3, 09 09:16 AM

@NObama (34) You're so stupid. The president pays for food out of his earnings, so it's a likely answer that the first family bought this candy on their own. And even if they didn't, who cares? That's like less than a fraction of a fraction of a cent per American for that candy. And just because thee first family chose to have a celebration at the white house doesn't mean it's federal policy to celebrate Halloween or any other holiday. I mean, do you bitch online at Christmas when the White House puts up a tree?

Posted by LifeAtFullSpeed November 3, 09 10:29 AM

Great photos! I love the girls in ladybug and bee outfits, charming little creatures, not scary at all :)

Posted by Ready Photo Site November 3, 09 10:32 AM


Posted by Fotis November 3, 09 11:37 AM

Some absolutely fantastic photos there.

Posted by Colin Goodman November 3, 09 12:37 PM

what is all this about celebrating the dead? You cant celebrated death. This is just pure pagan belief incorporated into other religions. I just think this as nonsense. I share the view of @29. There much better and noble things to celebrate.

Posted by confused November 3, 09 01:01 PM

NObama, your signature says it all. If things were different and it were John and Cindy doing this, you would have been gushing about how normal and down-to-Earth they were.

That said, there are a lot of Halloween pics and not as many of all the interesting Day of the Dead, or All Saints Day celebrations as I was expecting.

Posted by Jenn November 3, 09 01:08 PM

In Hinduism there is a similar period - "Pitra Paskha" (literal = Father's Period).

"Pitrapaksha gives a chance to repay debt to our deceased ancestors by gratifying their spirits. As such, Shraddha is a "debt of the dead"or "ceremonies of the dead" which should be performed, assuming that the dead ones are alive amongst us."

Didn't really know why was Halloween, All Saint's Day were celebrated up until now. Thanks for putting up these pictures.

Posted by Alan November 3, 09 01:25 PM

I've been wondering about #15 myself, but was unable to find anything more than generalities. From what I've managed to read, it looks like the alcohol is part of a night-long celebration that starts with ritually getting completely hammered (totally true). The woman may be "blessing" the horse, from what I'm reading. There are often fatalities in the race (since everyone is still blind drunk), and these are considered to be sacrifices to the gods and a blessing, not a bad thing.

Fascinating custom. Love hearing about new things!

Posted by Dave November 3, 09 01:41 PM

Superb images as usual. #27, 33 and 35 are my favourites!

Posted by Martin November 3, 09 01:58 PM

anyone up in arms over a white house halloween celebration is grasping at something to be outraged over. it's sad and small.

gorgeous shots (as always). thank you, big picture.

Posted by klb November 3, 09 04:02 PM

Yeah, just as Xmas is borrowed time-wise to subsume Yule... wasn't the Census historically found to be in Autumn or something?

Love the variety of pictures though.

Shame there are no old-fashioned "punkies" (i.e. turnips), you know, the things that got carved _way before_ the New World was found.... but pumpkins are ubiquitous now... (and at least they are very nutritious and easier to carve... goooooo Lemurs!)

so, no piccies of _unusually_ carved fruit then (D20, Ash from Evil Dead, Enterprise: see thinkgeek)?

Posted by Dokichan November 3, 09 04:18 PM

not only in Poland ist't a holyday but in many country's of Europe as Belgium, France, Germany and other

Posted by yvan November 3, 09 06:04 PM

we all know that the wookie is hella strapped

Posted by dyl November 3, 09 06:30 PM

Secret service agents dressed as chewie and stormtrooper, legit!!

Posted by Tom November 3, 09 06:38 PM

For Day of the Dead, it looked pretty lively.

Posted by LOL November 3, 09 09:29 PM

Amazing photography. Thank you.

Posted by JD November 3, 09 10:57 PM

I'd love to see more images of New Orleans in the blogs posts referring to Creole, Catholic holidays. NOLA is more a northern Caribbean than Southern city, and to leave the city out in photo essays for both Carnival and All Saints/All Souls Days seems an awfully silly oversight.

Posted by Jason November 4, 09 12:29 AM

but... but... is it Christian?

Posted by Saved777 November 4, 09 01:07 AM

Great compilation, but I agree with Juanjo (#40) that you miss A LOT of shots from here in Mexico. It would bi nice to have a set from Mexico (not only the big problems). Please consider our petition Boston.

Thanks, and keep on being the best photo blog of the net.

Posted by Luis Saint Martin November 4, 09 09:44 AM

The photos are great, I think you should have taken photos at Nicaragua, they also celebrate it at Masaya. It is called Los Aguizotes. It would have been interesting.

Posted by Alejandra November 4, 09 10:36 AM

estan super las imagenes

Posted by mario November 4, 09 02:00 PM

I like Picture # 28!!!! The guys are a little overwight but it looks like they are having fun!!!!!

Posted by aal November 4, 09 02:08 PM

15# ewwwwwwwwwww the hourse most win runing faster to get away from another discusting alchol spit

Posted by Anonymous November 4, 09 02:12 PM

What, No New Orleans Voodoo Fest? Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!!

Posted by Madi Fras Mambo November 4, 09 02:24 PM

Exceptional images, all of them!

Posted by Ranjit Arvind November 4, 09 02:39 PM

#8 i think the first lady didn't need a costume, if i were the kid, i'd be scared already :D

Posted by aaron shang November 4, 09 11:42 PM

I really like pictures 26 and 29. 26 especially - it looks like a picture I would hang on the wall of my home.

Posted by Alice November 5, 09 08:39 AM

Good Creativity… Dog Costume…

Posted by santhosh S November 6, 09 06:22 AM


I was at the Zombie Walk in Paris... He, he

(but sadly, I'm not on the picture, that would have been awesome)

Posted by David November 7, 09 04:36 AM

@PK Regarding # 20
That is a Motorola f3, one of the worst mobile phones I have ever seen and the cheapest one that you can buy in Brazil. Do a google image search on it, it is Incredibly Bad!

Posted by Liam November 7, 09 05:20 PM

In their own context, all the images are great. What a sample of this tradition around the globe! What I don't like is the text in the introduction that says "...Day of the Dead is still largely a Latin American tradition, its roots in Mexico's Aztec heritage." That is so wrong... I like Mexico and Mexicans,as a matter of fact, I married one; ; however, I don't like that so many people -especially in the US- think of Latin America as a whole as it is Mexico. For better or worse, every country has its own identity, traditions, gastronomy, etc. and being Guatemalan, I have to add, my heritage is Maya and I am very proud of it!

Posted by Erin November 7, 09 06:42 PM

@Scary Spice and every one else who is questioning what the two people are on the top left of the picture:

They are not KKK. Who in the KKK wears a red boa? And who in the KKK would be stupid enough to show up at the white house?

Posted by Molly November 8, 09 09:29 AM

#32 hit those drums

Posted by Jorge Lone Jr. November 8, 09 04:02 PM

I was surprised to see a stormtrooper still at the White House; I thought they all lost their jobs when Darth Cheney and company left.

Great photos. Nice to see a likable president at the White House.

Posted by neil November 14, 09 04:33 PM

Nice shots!

Posted by Flyvbjerg November 16, 09 06:13 AM

i think the images are marvelous

Posted by bingi man pkomu November 24, 09 02:46 AM

The two guys in the upper left are cone heads.

Posted by Tim R November 26, 09 05:50 PM

some pics are do sad,but I love it the others one.

A Hello from Brasil!

Posted by Nina November 26, 09 11:42 PM


Posted by UPENDRA LAL November 27, 09 08:07 AM


Posted by terrence November 2, 10 02:18 PM
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