What is Day of the Dead? Google honors colorful Mexican holiday

Combined ShapeCaption
Día De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead in English) is one of the world’s most misunderstood holidays. Simply because it’s celebrated within range of Halloween, and features an assortment of macabre imagery and costumes, some people assume it’s just “Mexican Halloween.” The multi-day holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. The Day of the Dead is often celebrated with ofrenda, altars hono

In honor of El Día de los Muertos — or Day of the Dead in English — Google's doodle team put together a beautiful animation for its homepage.

» RELATED: Savor the sweet side of Day of the Dead

The multi-day Mexican holiday celebrated on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 dates back to the Aztec Empire.

"According to most folklore, the roots of the holiday can be traced to celebrations surrounding the Aztec goddess Mictecacihuatl," The AJC previously reported. "When the Spanish integrated Catholicism into the conquest of what is now Mexico, many of these pagan rituals were adopted into the celebration of All Saints Day on Nov. 1 and All Souls Day on Nov. 2, when most Mexicans celebrate this beloved day."

» RELATED: What is Dia de los Muertos and when is it celebrated?

It’s a time meant for celebrating loved ones, both present and past. Every year, friends and family gather to pray for those who have died, creating colorful ofrendas, or altars, in honor of the dead.

These ofrendas are typically decorated with marigold petals; calacas and calaveras (skulls and skeletons); photographs of treasured mementos and favorite foods and drinks of the departed. You’ll also find burning candles meant to “evoke the spirit world.”

» RELATED: 'Coco' Oscars win brings emotional response on Twitter

The holiday is celebrated throughout Mexico and other Latin American countries. Many Mexican-Americans continue to celebrate El Día de los Muertos in the United States.

The Atlanta History Center recently held a Day of the Dead Festival and Krog Street Market celebrated on Nov. 1 with live music at its Superica restaurant.

» RELATED: Recipes and events to celebrate Dia de los Muertos in Atlanta

"In its essence, it's a joyous occasion that's about dispelling fear and embracing the cycle of life," Google wrote for its doodle blog.

The calaveras in today’s doodle were handcrafted using clay by team member Nate Swinehart.

Want to know more about the holiday and share the culture with friends and family? Consider watching Disney's Academy-Award winning Pixar-animated film "Coco," which was inspired by the cherished Mexican tradition.

More about El Día de los Muertos at Google.com/doodles.