The first Day of the Dead, as it’s now celebrated on Nov. 1st and 2nd, probably occurred around 500 years ago corresponding with the Spanish colonization of Mexico.
Many of the traditions though that are observed in Mexico came from a month long series of ceremonies that the Aztecs had been observing for 2,500 to 3,000 years prior to the arrival of the Spanish. In an effort to obliterate the native religion and convert the Aztecs to Catholicism, the Spanish combined the Day of the Dead like festivities with the church’s All Saints Day ideology, creating the Day of the Dead that Mexicans celebrate today.
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