The Day of the Dead is an ancient Mexican festivity that in prehispanic Mexico involved the Aztec rituals devoted to children and the dead. Spanish priests moved the date to November 1 to coincide with their All Hallows or All Saints Day (Día de Todos Santos). (This is the festival of the Catholic Saints and martyrs who lack a day of their own, the prior evening being, of course, All Hallows Eve: Halloween.)
Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead during November 1-2 as a mixture of ancient native beliefs and Catholic features. Usual activities include visiting, grooming and decorating family gravesites, as well as various festivities. In the early morning of November 2 (the actual Day of the Dead) there is a traditional feast, although modern families typically have a special supper that features the "Bread of the Dead" (Pan de muerto). A toy skeleton is baked into the loaf, and good luck supposedly befalls the one who bites into it (see Pudding Dolls). The Day of the Dead puppet skeleton--shown at left--(about 14" high) was made in Mexico--carved of wood, hand painted, and strung with coarse twine.