Día de los Muertos is a two-day long celebration of friends and family that have passed. Traditionally celebrated in Mexico, the festival has worked its way North thanks to a growing Hispanic population in the United States, and has exploded in popularity with the help of Disney’s animated movie Coco and the vibrant aesthetic.

We looked to see where Día de los Muertos is popular in the US according to Google search data. Here are the Top 10 Cities Celebrating Día de los Muertos.

Photo: Itenney1225 on Flickr

#1 – San Diego, California

Chula Vista has some of the highest search volume per capita for Día de los Muertos. That combined with the proximity of San Diego to Mexico makes it a prime location for the festival. Where to Celebrate in San Diego

#2 – El Paso, Texas

El Paso surged up the rankings to grab the #2 spot in 2018 and like many of the locations it has a strong representation of Mexican culture. Here’s where you can find the celebration. Where to Celebrate in El Paso

#3 – Corpus Christi, Texas

Corpus Christi is a unique city on the coast of Texas. It also is the birthplace of Whataburger and a Día de los Muertos block party that spans 10-blocks and is attended by 35,000 people! Even the Corpus Christi Hooks, a AA-affiliate of the Houston Astros, are getting into it. CC Hooks Celebration

#4 – Los Angeles, California

Santa Ana and San Bernardino helped make the LA metro area one of the top places to celebrate Día de los Muertos. There’s no doubting LA’s rich Mexican heritage, even if we have to vehemently disagree on CaliMex being better than TexMex. Where to Celebrate in LA

#5 – San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio is doing it big this year with two weeks of events from October 20th to November 3rd. If you can get to the Alamo City you won’t want to miss it. Where to Celebrate in San Antonio

#6 – Tucson, Arizona

Tucson celebrates Día de los Muertos with an All Souls Procession, a full-blown parade to honor the occasion! Where to Celebrate in Tucson

#7 – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque has a number of events going on, including a Día de los Muertos Día de los Muertos party in Sunset Memorial Park. Where to Celebrate in Albuquerque

#8 – Ft Lauderdale, Florida

Fort Lauderdale has dedicated an entire downtown festival to Día de los Muertos, complete with a procession, mariachis, dance groups, art exhibits, and more! Day of the Dead Florida Event

#9 – Chicago, Illinois

Chicago? The Chicago up North? … yep! Chicago hosts the National Museum of Mexican Art who puts on a pretty awesome event. Xicago Day of the Dead Event

#10 – Sacramento, California

Sacramento is hosting the “Souls of the City” event to celebrate Día de los Muertos, in conjunction with Sol Collective and the Sacramento History Museum. Where to Celebrate in Sacramento

Photo: Itenney1225 on Flickr

Origins of Día de los Muertos

The event originated from a month-long Aztec festival to honor Mictēcacihuātl, the Goddess of the Dead, and her husband, Mictlāntēcutl. The latter is depicted in Aztec culture as a skeleton which likely gave inspiration for the skeleton aesthetic we know today.

When is Día de los Muertos?

The festival is celebrated for two days, starting on November 1st to mark the return of the children’s spirits on Día de los Angelitos, or “Day of the Little Angels.” On the second day, families are reunited with their ancestors with the return of the adult spirits on Día de los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead.”

How do you Celebrate Día de los Muertos?

On October 31st, families will place offerings at an altar known as ofrendas. These offerings are typically things that their ancestors enjoyed like a favorite candy, toys, food, or even tequila or mezcal. They are also combined with calaveras, the iconic, vibrantly decorated skulls known in the US as “sugar skulls”, and short poems also known as calaveras that poke fun at people. Altars are adorned with bright golden marigolds known as cempasúchil to guide spirits to the ofrendas.

The festival is celebrated differently across Mexico, but will often include a trip to the cemetery to clean up and decorate graves of relatives, public gatherings with candles, masks, and sometimes even floats.

It’s an occasion that can be celebrated by anyone that wants to remember their ancestors. Just setup a small area in your home with pictures of family and things that they enjoyed or items they left and enjoy remembering times past. Get some masa and prepare some homemade tamales if you’re seeking extra authenticity.

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