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Day Of The Dead
Just as there are differences in details of the altars and the celebrations from one family to another so there are differences among the many ethnic groups which make up Oaxaca. But in every home, in every cemetery, in every community, La Día de los Muertos is possibly the most important celebration of the year.
This intensely personal celebration is at the same time a communal expression of tradition and belief, reverence and ridicule in the face of common destiny. There are altars in stores restaurants and public buildings, with a prize for the best decorated. Skeletons, "calacas" and catrinas are to be found everywhere and candy skulls sport names of all origins.
The celebrations that take place during El Dia de los Muertos reflect the underlying purpose of the Adventure Learning Foundation. That purpose is to learn about and to teach others about cultures different from our own and to respectfully observe and appreciate all of the color and pageantry of new cultures. Due to its heritage, Oaxaca is one of the places in the world that preserves its customs and traditions. During this holiday, the people here show their belief that death is only another phase of life from which we both shrink from and celebrate.
The people of Oaxaca open their lives and invite all of us to spend this holiday with them. One of the most important elements of this time is the fiestas and picnics that take place in the cemeteries around the city. During the week before the "Dias", the families visit the graves of their relatives, cleaning, painting and decorating them for their symbolic return to life. The the actual Days of the Dead, the families celebrate the life of the deceased with meals and music, all taking place at the gravesides.