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Five reasons to celebrate the Mexican Day of the Dead

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Sunday sees the start of the Mexican Day of the Dead: slugging tequila and dressing up like Jack Skellington, right? Not quite. Alexi Duggins gives five reasons why this traditional celebration is so great.

It's historical, but there's booze

The Day of the Dead is a Mexican festival dating back to Aztec times, in which people honour the deceased with graveside vigils, telling stories of remembrance and creating altars known as ofrendas. Something traditionally offered to the departed are jars of tequila, suggesting that one of the upsides to the afterlife is an absence of hangovers.

The costumes are phenomenal

Día de los Muertos is all about skulls. Be they sugar ones that families create as offerings, or the wearing of masks that make you look like Skeletor from 'He-Man'. Face-painting is a more recent introduction, but, boy, is it popular. The skulls are often combined with floral designs. DÌa de los Muertos is also all about marigolds, called 'the flower of the dead' in Mexico.

There's dancing

The main problem with partying as part of religious festivities is the nagging feeling that God's masterplan perhaps didn't involve you waving your arms about like an over-caffeinated tree. Not a problem with the Day of the Dead, whose very origins involve celebrating the deceased through dance. Observers traditionally sewed seashells on to their clothes so that the clattering would wake the eternally sleeping.

James Bond's a fan

A 700-year-old Mexican ritual being totally now is, admittedly, bloody weird. But we don't make up the rules, and the makers of Bond movie 'Spectre' decided that it's so happening that the opening scene features the lothario legging it through a Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City. Which should at least be a useful pointer if you're really stuck for a costume come November 1.

It's a lot less naff than Halloween

If Halloween in London was a holiday, it would be a package trip to Shagaluf: it's naff, crass and the kind of thing that should only excite you when you're 17. The Day of the Dead, however, is as yet untainted by rampant commercialism, and sees this city's venues holding kooky events such as sugar skull decorating, screenings of Mexican films, free tequila and gigs by the likes of The Horrors. No doubt about it: Día de los Muertos is dead cool.

Find yourself a Day of the Dead fiesta.

Or if you're more into Halloween, take a look at these frighteningly fantastic parties.

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