Skip to content

By Tiffany, Mattawa Library

Do you know anyone who celebrates Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead? This is a Mexican celebration that dates back thousands of years.

It begins the evening of October 31st and continues through November 1st and 2nd, welcoming the spirits of loved ones who have died. Families may decorate an ofrenda, or offering, in their home with pictures, favorite foods and other traditional items that invite remembrance of deceased family members.  Take a look at this ofrenda to see how the elements of Wind, Earth, Water and Fire welcome the spirits to the celebration!


The cut paper papel picado represents WIND as it has openings for the wind to pass through and also gives the spirits a way to pass back  into this life.  Some believe the delicate tissue paper also represents the fragility of life.

FIRE is usually candles but may be little lights as well.  These light the way for the spirits who are welcomed by photographs of themselves, and sometimes a mirror to remember who they are.

EARTH is represented by foods or favorite items the loved ones might have enjoyed while living.

WATER is provided to quench the thirst of spirits after a long journey.

Colorful skulls or decorated skeletons are not scary but represent the dead who have left the earth.  The scent of marigolds and incense  is said to draw the spirits home where they will find those who remember them!  And since the celebration coincides with the return of the Monarch butterflies to Mexico, sometimes butterflies are included in the decorations.

You can remember your loved ones by making an ofrenda, by listening to stories or learning more about them through connecting with  your family history on a free site like Family Search which has resources just for Dia de los Muertos and through NCW Libraries genealogy resources.  

To learn more about Dia de Muertos/Day of the Dead, visit your local library online or in person, where you will find movies, music and books to help you celebrate this colorful holiday!




11_2 Dia de los muertos music


11_2 Dia de los Muertos

Children’s Picture Books


Middle Grade Books

Streaming Movies & Documentaries

Log in to Kanopy with your library card to watch these programs. Don’t have an account yet? No problem. It’s easy to sign up.Start here and create an account.

La Ofrenda: The Days of the Dead

The Day of the Dead (children’s movie)

Stay Informed!

The latest library happenings, delivered straight to your inbox.

Need help? Check out our FAQ’s.
Not finding what you're looking for? Make a purchase suggestion.

Click here to close search window.