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-  Celebrating the Day of the Dead  (© PvE/Alamy)

Whether made of wood, clay, or even candy, Day of the Dead skeleton figures, called calacas, share one common trait: They’re having fun. The reason for the whimsical portrayal of death is a holdover from the Aztec influence on Mexican culture. According to traditional beliefs, the dead don’t want to be remembered with sadness, but rather with the joy they brought to the world when they were alive. Today is the height of the three-day celebration, which begins with All Saints Eve on October 31, continues with All Saints Day (today), and ends with All Souls Day on November 2.