This is a unique pagan religious festivity that consists of remembering and honoring the Saints as well as all our faithful departed. On October 30th and 31st all markets are crowded as everyone buys fresh flowers, sweets, chocolate skeletons, drinking chocolate and more to decorate their family graves in the cemeteries as well as to decorate their altars that are made to honor their departed friends and family in their homes.
It's generally believed that on October 31st in the afternoon arrive the souls of the departed children and leave the following day at 2 p.m. and at that same time arrive the souls of the adults and leave on Nov 2nd at 2 p.m. So all family altars have to be set up and ready to last between Oct 31st and Nov 2nd, as well as the visits to the cemeteries. These vary depending on the village, for example in Santa Cruz Xoxocotlan they have the tradition of all families going to honor their departed at their graves in their cemeteries on Oct 31st and spending the entire night there with them. Here in the city, families go to our local cemetery on Nov 2nd during the daytime and spend the day there with a meal and mariachi music and all the surrounding streets are very festive and fun.
The celebration consists of decorating the tombs of the departed with beautiful flowers such as Marigolds, Cockscombs, Black-eyed Susans, candles, colored sand designs, incense and more. In peoples homes, altars are decorated with similar flowers, fruits, drinks etc. as it's believed that the departed take the essence of these foods and replenish themselves to continue their journey. It's also a tradition in several villages near the city to organize "Comparsas" on Nov 1st, parades where most people dress up in funny and strange looking outfits and go from house to house dancing with brass bands playing and fireworks, celebrating "the life of the dead".
On the main plaza large sand altars are also exhibited, which have colored sand designs that originate from sand crosses that most families make in their homes on the 9th day after the death of a loved one, and that cross will afterwards be taken and laid above the grave in the cemetery.