Friday, May 6, 2016

Random Facts About... The Eiffel Tower

Whether you're lucky enough to have visited Paris or have only ever dreamed of going there, there’s no doubt you could all recognize the iconic Parisian symbol: The Eiffel Tower. These random facts will prove to you this poor construction has been through all sort of things…and some of them are quite weird.

1. The Eiffel Tower was built for the 1889 Paris Exposition and was not intended to be permanent.

2. The Eiffel Tower was going to be demolished in 1909, but was saved because it was repurposed as a giant radio antenna. And in 1913, the tower transmitted a signal all the way to Washington DC. The Tower is also a huge lightning rod.

3. Gustave Eiffel used latticed wrought iron to construct the tower to demonstrate that the metal could be as strong as stone while being lighter.

4. Con artist Victor Lustig "sold" the Eiffel Tower to a scrap metal dealer. Victor was a notorious scammer who “sold” the Tower even twice. 

5. The Eiffel Tower was originally intended for Barcelona, Spain, but the project was rejected.

6.  Because it’s made of wrought iron, the height of the Eiffel Tower varies by 5.9 inches (15 cm) due to temperature changes.

7. Inventor Franz Reichelt died by jumping from the Eiffel Tower while testing a parachute of his own design.

8. 1,665 steps are needed to climb all the way to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

9. A woman named Erika "married" the Eiffel Tower in a commitment ceremony in 2007. Now her name is Erika Eiffel.

10. There is a race called “Vertical” that determines the best climbers of the Eiffel Tower.

11. There are over 30 replicas of the Eiffel Tower around the world. The most known can be found in Las Vegas.

12. The paint on the Eiffel Tower weighs 50/60 tonnes, as much as 10 elephants.

13. Gustave Eiffel had an apartment for himself at the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The project of the Watkin's Tower

14. In 1891, London built a structure designed to surpass the Eiffel Tower in height. It was unsteady, never completed and demolished in 1907. The ambitious structure was built on the site of Watkin’s Tower.

15. Gustave Eiffel, the man who designed the Eiffel Tower, was also behind the design for the Statue of Liberty's internal frame.

16. At the time of its construction, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest building in the world.

17. 300 workers, 18,038 pieces of wrought iron and 2.5 million rivets were needed to build the Eiffel Tower.

18. If the Eiffel Tower was built today, it would cost about 31 million US dollars.

19. The Eiffel Tower was almost temporarily relocated to Canada in 1967. 

The Tower during the Nazi occupation
20. During WWII, when Hitler visited Paris, the French deactivated the lifts on the Eiffel Tower so that Hitler would have to use the stairs if he wanted to reach the top. The lifts were repaired only in 1946. During the Nazi occupation the tower was closed for public.

21. A woman tried to commit suicide from the Eiffel Tower, landed on a car and later married the person who owned the car. Unfortunately such a happy ending is a rare thing, the Eiffel tower has one of the the highest suicide rates , which is 17.5 per 1000 people.

22. A man once tried to blow up the Eiffel Tower because its light was shining into his bedroom, keeping him awake at night. Ivan Chtcheglov was planning to use dynamite stolen from some construction site, luckily he was arrested and committed to a mental hospital by his spouse.

23. The Eiffel Tower in Paris has a light show that runs for 5 minutes every hour, every night, until dawn.

24. The Eiffel Tower was originally painted red. It appeared in red color in the center of Paris in 1889.

25. The tower is painted a lighter shade at the bottom and a darker shade near the top to counteract the effect of atmospheric perspective.

26. Gustave Eiffel engraved on the tower the names of 72 French scientists, physicians, chemists,  engineers and mathematicians in recognition of their contributions to science.

Now, if you're planning to go seeing this amazing tower, you'll also see all the bizzarre things that happened during its life. Bonne chance et ne jamais cesser de fouiner.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Urban Legends - Did Unicorns Ever Exist?

Unicorns are such pure, beautiful and mysterious creatures. These mythical horses with a single spiraling horn protruding from the forehead have continuously populated legends and magical myths all over the world. Everything has been said about them. Somebody says there’s a strange healing power enclosed in the horn, others say they can actually fly without having wings. Everybody says they’re immortal.

When the cultural beliefs about the magical creature were exploding , a “unicorn horn” was literally worth 10 times its weight in gold. Pharmacies in London sold powdered unicorn horn as late as 1741.

The unicorn of the Lascaux Caves, France
But despite being very well known, nobody has actually seen a living one grazing on the neighbors’ lawn. These magical horses have been discussed in religious texts, travel observations, and even ancient academic papers. But the real question is: Did unicorns, at one point in time, actually exist? And If they didn’t, where did the legend come from?

The first ever known depiction of a unicorn is said to be found in the ancient Lascaux Caves in France, but this should be classified as a misconception. These drawings date back to 15,000 BCE. Lots of researchers were surprised to see an animal with only one horn, claiming the discovery of an ancient “unicorn”. Until they realized that the so-called unicorn had two horns, drawn confusingly close together. More likely, the drawing depicts some sort of bull or antelope.

The first written description of a unicorn in Western literature comes from the Greek physician and historian Ctesias in the 4th century BCE. While he was traveling through Persia (what is now named Iran), he heard tales of a single-horned “wild ass” wandering around the eastern part of the world from fellow travelers. In his writings (found in Odell Shepard’s 1930 research manual called “Lore of the Unicorn”), Ctesias minutely described these creatures as “large as horses” with white bodies, red heads and blue eyes. Ctesias depicted the horn as multi-colored (precisely red at the tip, black in the middle and white at the base) and about a foot and half in length. They were so fast and powerful, claimed Ctesias, that “no creature, neither the horse or any other, could overtake it”. According to Time Magazine’s article “A Brief History of Unicorns,” it was likely Ctesias never actually saw this creature himself, but rather combined the portrayals that his foreign friends told him.

Is this what Marco Polo saw ?
Talking about actual unicorns sightings, there’s a funny story about Marco Polo. In his travels, he stumbled across unicorns and this is what he said about them:

“…scarcely smaller than elephants. They have the hair of a buffalo and feet like an elephant’s. They have a single large black horn in the middle of the forehead… They have a head like a wild boar’s… They spend their time by preference wallowing in mud and slime. They are very ugly brutes to look at. They are not at all such as we describe them when we relate that they let themselves be captured by virgins, but clean contrary to our notions”.
Nothing is impossible...

That day he saw a rhino. In fact, a lot of the sightings of unicorns are relatable with these “not so beautiful” animals (Even Genghis Khan decided not to conquer India after meeting a “unicorn”, which bowed down to him). And this funny mistake has been adopted by modern science, giving rhinos the scientific name of Rhinoceros unicornis.

The unicorn is even mentioned in the King James version of the Bible nine times.

“God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn”
“Save me from the lion’s mouth; for thou hast heard me from the horns of unicorns”

An ox
An Oryx
are just two of the unicorn-themed lines in this version of the Bible. But this is probably due to a simple mistranslation. In fact, in the Torah (the Hebrew Bible), there are references to a creature named “re’em”. Researchers believe re’em” were a now-extinct type of wild ox or, potentially, the now endangered, but still existing, Arabian Oryx. The book doesn’t specifically talk about one single horn, but translators were more familiar with Mesopotamian depictions of these animals, drawn as profiles in which only one horn is visible. So, when the Old Testament was translated to Greek, these creatures took on the word “monokeros”, meaning one-horned. Then, in the Latin Bible, this became “unicornos” and then “unicorn” into the modern English translation.

And no let’s talk about Narwhals, unicorns’ cousins. Some of the most die-hard unicorn believers think the narwhal is the missing link that can lead to the ancient existence of their beloved creatures. But there’s so little in common between unicorns and narwhals. The narwhal is a member of the whale/porpoise family and owns a single horn (that is actually a tooth) located in the middle of the forehead. This tooth is used during mating and to create holes in the ice of the cold waters of the Canadian Arctic and Greenland they often live in. These unicorn supporters speculate that unicorns, being threaten on land by hunters and those wishing to do them harm, took the sea and evolved into the narwhal. However, without a minimal connection with the horse morphology and DNA,  this kind of evolution is extremely improbable. In fact, narwhals are actually much closer to beluga whales, dolphins, and porpoises than horses in terms of DNA.

Howwever, the legend that unicorn horns could counteract poison and purify water destroyed narwhal populations, as the single tooth of the whale’s was sold as a popular counterfeit. The Throne Chair of Denmark was also made of narwhal horns.

All of this evidence seems to point to that unicorns, unfortunately for us, never actually existed. More likely, the unicorn could be seen as a mixture of all the real animals we’ve seen so far.

But don’t be sad, cause I have wonderful news for you. If you still think the unicorn is real (like I do), there is a place for you: Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. In 1971, the college created a group dedicated to the staking out and hunting of these mythical creatures called “the Unicorn Hunters”. Though the group disbanded in 1987, you can still have a Unicorn Questing license on the university’s website. The PDF is downloadable here:
I already have mine and my life is complete. Don’t care what people say. Now I have the License. And so do you…

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Did you know the Origin of the Male and Female Symbols?

Males and females are completely different, that’s for sure! But have you ever wondered why the classical symbols the genders are drawn like they are.

These two little symbols, despite being very simple and recognizable, have a lot of meaning and correlations with planets and metals. Both these associations started at the beginning of civilization. The ancients, after observing how planets and stars, like the Sun, were moving across the universe,  they found out there was a causal relationship between those movements and corresponding changes in events on our planet.

Venus (on the left) and Mars (on the right)
Logically, then, ancient scholars began to study heavenly bodies in order to predict future. They also started to associate different planets with their gods. The most common are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Zeus (Jupiter) and Cronus (Saturn).

Each planet, along with the respective god, was also associated with a particular metal. For example, the Sun (Helios) was associated with gold. And also the two planets Mars and Venus (Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus) had a representative metal. Mars (in Greek, Thouros) was associated with Iron, the hard metal used to make weapons that can turn red in form of rust.On the other hand, Venus (in Greek, Phosphorus) as associated with Copper, a softer metal that can turn green as rust.

Just like we do today with the periodic table, the Greeks would refer to these metals, using the name of the god they’re associated with, using  a combination of letters. After a while, also a little shorthand was made. Talking about  Mars (Thouros) and Venus (Phosphorus):

…and, as you can see, the shorthand began to change slightly again and again through the centuries, becoming the symbols we all know today. So, men and women are different but still connected by the stars. Have a good Life and Never Stop Snooping Around :)

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year - A Christmas Carol TAG

Surely you all know “A Christmas Carol”, the traditional Charles Dickens tale that tells the story of an old man named Ebenezer Scrooge, obsessed only with money and without any sense of holiday, altruism or kindness, and how the visit of three spirits taught him the true meaning of Christmas. Since it’s one of those “must” traditions, I was watching one of the movie transpositions of the novel, and I got an idea. Why not sharing with you some aspects of my past, present and future life, with maybe getting rid of some of my heavy heart? No one has ever thought about this before, and so I present it to you for the first time ever. This is “A Christmas Carol Tag”.

You will be visited by three ghosts
Jacob Marley Ghost. The first spirit visiting Scrooge is his old business partner Jacob Marley, represented as a corpse who is forever cursed to wander the earth dragging a network of heavy chains, forged during a lifetime of greed and selfishness. The ghost threatens Scrooge he would suffer the same fate if he didn’t redeem himself. His representative question could be "Which one of your sins/bad habits do you repent of ?". For me the answer to this question is very simple: sometimes I am very envious. I can’t help it, it’s like my mind is forcing me to excel in everything, otherwise I should be envious of things other people can do and I can’t. Envy is a waste of emotions, but lately I have learned to bury this demon deep down and be helpful to those around me and start thinking of what I can do. And without a doubt this is such a more rewarding feeling.

"I told you these were shadows of
the things that have been," said the Ghost.
 "That they are what they are, do not blame me!"
Ghost of Christmas Past. This is a spirit surrounded by a ring of light that comes from its head, making it look like a candle and holding a hat-shaped extinguisher and a holly branch. The spirit wakes up Scrooge and brings him back in time to his forgotten childhood and youth. The question that best fits this ghost could be "Which one is the memory you cannot live without and Which one would you want to forget?". Personally, I cannot live without smiles. When I'm feeling down, I always think of my parents and friends’ smiles, as well as the times we've had together. I don’t think I would forget anything of my past. Misfortunes, sadness and sorrows have made me what I am today and without those things I wouldn’t have tempered my character.

“Come in, -- come in! and know me better, man!
I am the Ghost of Christmas Present. Look upon me!
You have never seen the like of me before!”
Ghost of Christmas Present. Everyone thinks this ones the merrier ghost. It looks like a giant, with a green cloak trimmed with white fur, a holly wreath on his head and a torch-cornucopia in hand, sitting on a throne of Christmas delicacies. This funny character shows Scrooge how other people spend Christmas, showing him also the sad story of Tiny Tim, who you all certainly know (and if you haven’t felt bad at least once about the little boy you don’t have a heart). And the question is "What would you change in your today life and Who do have to thank for who you are today?". With all the problems that have overwhelmed me lately, the only thing I would like would be a slightly less hectic life ... a little more calm but not boring. For what I am today of course I have to thank parents, relatives and friends. But above all I thank all of you who follow me and read my blog, because nothing makes me feel better than writing on my little page on the Internet and without you my work would be useless. So thank you from the bottom of my heart.

“Ghost of the Future!” he exclaimed,
“I fear you more than any spectre I have seen”.
Ghost of Christmas Future. The most mysterious and ghoulish of all. The spirit closely resembles the Grim Reaper. A colossal figure, wrapped in black cloak and hood from which nothing emerges but a black hand protruding from the sleeve. The ghost is completely silent, but it guide Scrooge only with a finger. While visiting the Christmas yet to come, Scrooge realizes that if he didn’t change, he would die in loneliness without any comfort. Obviously the question is "What do you hope/expect from your future?". Obviously everyone hopes for a luck, successful and loving future and surely I would hope so. But there’s something else I really want from the future: I want it to amaze and surprise me. Remember me that the world is a place where people can still believe in miracles, going beyond daily life.
And that's it for this year. But since this is a tag now it's your turn!!! Anyone who’s reading this post is tagged. Nothing would make me happier. Oh, and you can do whatever you want: write a post, make a video, write it in the comments ... whatever you want. I wish ou all a magical new year and all the best in the world. Happy Holidays ... and never stop Snooping Around.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Santa’s Hallucinating Mushrooms

There’s no way of thinking about Santa Claus without involving magic. A sparkling sleigh towed by flying reindeers in the middle of the night with millions of presents for the good boys and girls of the world. Normal people should be completely drunk or worse to actually see something like that. Well, according to a strange theory, this possibility is not far away from the truth. What if I tell you the unlikely source of the story of Santa and his helpers could be hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Of course you are now probably wondering how could some perception altering mushrooms be connected with the good old symbol of Christmas? John Rush, an anthropologist and instructor at Sierra College in Rocklin (CA) said:

"Santa is a modern counterpart of a shaman, who consumed mind-altering plants and fungi to commune with the spirit world"

Therefore the legend of Santa would derive from shamans in the Siberian and Arctic regions who dropped a bag full of hallucinogenic mushrooms into locals' tents as presents in late December. This custom became a tradition during the winter solstice, when shamans used to collect some Amanita Muscaria (considered Holy Mushrooms even if it can be poisonous sometimes), dry them and then give them as gifts, using an opening in the roof of the tent through which people entered and exited, made because in that period snow is usually blocking doors. So this could be also an explanation of the reason why a big man like Santa should always pass through a tiny hole on the roof. Of course, a lot of scientists don’t believe in this strange connection, but there are more other coincidences that should be considered.

Mushrooms, like gifts, are found beneath pine trees. Even if this particular example could be seen as a pure coincidence, late author James Arthur, in his book “Mushrooms and Mankind”, points out that Amanita Muscaria lives throughout the Northern Hemisphere beneath conifers and birch trees. There’s a symbiotic relationship between the tree and the mushrooms, which are deep red with white flecks. This practice of the Christmas tree and the placement of bright red-and-white presents underneath could be partially explained. In his book, James Arthur wrote:

"Why do people bring pine trees into their houses at the Winter Solstice, placing brightly colored packages under their boughs, as gifts to show their love for each other … ? It is because, underneath the pine bough is the exact location where one would find this 'Most Sacred' substance, the Amanita Muscaria, in the wild".

Then, what about “flying” reindeers? Reindeer are common in Siberia and northern Europe, and seek out these hallucinogenic mushrooms, just like the area's human inhabitants have also been known to do. In Siberian legends the reindeer took flight each winter after ingesting the Amanita Muscaria. Shamans would join them on a vision quest, by taking the mushrooms themselves and then, climbing the tree of life, they would take flight like a bird into other realms. Donald Pfister, a Harvard University biologist who studies fungi, suggests that Siberian tribesmen who ingested the Amanita Muscaria may have hallucinated that the grazing reindeer were flying. Also Carl Ruck, a professor of classics at Boston University, said:

"At first glance, one thinks it's ridiculous, but it's not. Whoever heard of reindeer flying? I think it's becoming general knowledge that Santa is taking a 'trip' with his reindeer. […]Amongst the Siberian shamans, you have an animal spirit you can journey with in your vision quest, and reindeer are common and familiar to people in eastern Siberia. They also have a tradition of dressing up like the mushroom … they dress up in red suits with white spots".

Another strange connection that Pfister pointed out is the fact that tree ornaments shaped like Amanita mushrooms and other depictions of the fungi are also prevalent in Christmas decorations throughout the world, particularly in Scandinavia and northern Europe. If sneak a closer peak you’ll find mushrooms everywhere. That said, Pfister made it clear that modern-day Christmas and the ancestral practice of eating mushrooms are no longer strictly connected as they once were.

Talking about modern Christmas, this theory suggest that even the 1823 poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement Clarke Moore, is connected with the little mushrooms. The origins of Moore's vision are unclear, although Arthur, Rush and Ruck all think the poet probably used northern European motifs that derive from Siberian or Arctic shamanic traditions. Arthur wrote:

"At the very least, Santa's sleigh and reindeer are probably references to various related northern European mythology. For example, the Norse god Thor flew in a chariot drawn by two goats, which have been replaced in the modern retelling by Santa's reindeer”.

Last but not least, let’s talk about where Santa lives. Ruck said:
"Is there any other reason that Santa lives in the North Pole? It is a tradition that can be traced back to Siberia".

What do you think about this theory? Do you think it could be a funny interpretation of Santa’s origins? Maybe Rudolph has his little bright red  nose for a reason…

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Urban Legends - Krampus, The Christmas Shadow

Surely Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Life looks a little bit better with snow, lights and songs all over the decorated streets. And of course there’s Santa Claus (also known as Saint Nicholas) bringing joy and presents to all the good girls and boys. But there’s some parts of Europe, like Germany, Austria, and other parts of the Alps region, where naughty children needs to be very careful during the holidays because of a dark, mischievous and grumpy figure hidden in the shadows. This evil spirit is the Krampus, Saint Nicholas counterpart.

This creature is an anthropomorphic beast with fangs, fur, and horns. Dark and ancient spirit, Krampus announces his presence with loud bells and terrorizes the kids who have misbehaved during the year. In contrast with Santa giving the good ones gifts and joy, Krampus gives the bad ones whip beatings and nightmares. And if you have been particularly naughty, Krampus will drop you in a sack and whisk you away to his lair in the underworld and you’ll never be seen again. A fairy tale gone horribly wrong…

How did this creature come to be a part of the Christmas tradition? Scholars estimate that Krampus started appearing between the 11th century and the 13th century. The legend has probably started High up in the Alp countries, connecting this monster with witches and demons. The word “Krampus” is derived from the Old High German word krampen, meaning “claw”. According to Norse mythology, Krampus is the son of Hel, the goddess ruler of the underworld. There are also a few physical similarities between Krampus and Greek mythical creatures – like the horns and hoofs of satyrs and fauns. So it looks like Krampus has something to do with ancient myths and legends from all over the world.

The creature spread to other European countries such as Switzerland, Czech Republic and Hungary, with slightly variations in looks, names and practiced customs. In Tyrol (a state in western Austria), Krampus tends to look like a giant and sadistic, teddy bear. In western Germany, he actually arrives with Santa, sitting shotgun in his sleigh. In Styria (southeast Austria), the birch sticks used for his whip are painted gold and displayed year around, to remind kids of Krampus’s impending arrival. After entering in the Christmas tradition, Krampus was given chains showing him as an embodiment of the devil being bound by the Church.

Then, after being connected and altered in order to give him a more religious meaning, Krampus was attached to St. Nick, a Christian saint and the owner of his very own feast day on December 6th. St. Nick, himself, wouldn’t be closely associated with Christmas until early 19th century with the name Santa Claus deriving from the Dutch language. In many parts of Germany and Austria, St. Nick is still separate from Christmas and celebrated on December 6th.

The connection has its logic because Krampus was awarded his own night called Krampusnacht (Krampus Night) on December 5th, the day before St. Nick’s feast. During this night, Krampus wanders around making loud noises and scaring bad kids while good kids put a boot outside, hoping St. Nick to drop fruit and nuts into it). This night is still celebrated in the Alps region with run of celebrants dressed as the wicked beast and it is customary to offer Krampus a drink of warm schnapps, a "strong alcoholic drink resembling gin and often flavored with fruit".

Despite these connections to Christianity, Krampus is still a pagan origin and some traditions have survived and are still part of today’s creature. He continues to carry bells, which were customarily used to ward off spirits. As mentioned, the animal-like appearance of most Krampus’ also date to pagan times and hasn’t been changed at all.

As for Santa Claus, Krampus, along with other German pagan legends, started to regain acceptance and a following in the 19th century. This was partially due to the ancient German folk tales that the Brothers Grimm popularized in the early 1800s. In fact, Krampus gets a quick reference in Jacob Grimm’s 1835 book Deutsche Mythologie (translated to “Teutonic Mythology”). Art and postcards were also created that showed off Krampus and people began to exchange Krampus cards (with some saying “Greetings from the Krampus”) in Europe during the late 19th century as a rather peculiar way of wishing happy holidays. 

Krampus hasn’t been an accepted European tradition during the war neither. In 1934, four years before the Third Reich overran Germany and Austria, The New York Times published an article called: “Krampus Disliked in Fascist Austria, declaring the Krampus strictly forbidden. Same old political issues.

More recently, Krampus has become very popular all over the world. And if have never heard of him before...well, now you know. So Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Beware the Krampus…

Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Special – El Día de los Muertos

La Calavera Catrina
We all know All Hallows’ Eve is a celebration that has all to do with death and honoring deceased relatives and, in this particular night, everyone has the opportunity to dress up as monsters, ghosts and skeletons asking for sweets. This is sure a funny way to exorcise the fact that we should never underestimate or forget the Grim Reaper is always chasing us. But what if I tell you there’s another celebration that is similar to Halloween but, at the same time, has nothing to do with it. In fact, El Día de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday, now also spread all over the world, that can be called “The Hymn to Life”. You celebrate death learning about the importance of life.

El Día de los Muertos, celebrated on November 2nd, is an opportunity for Mexican children to learn that life is brief and there’s a life circle everyone must face sooner or later. The important meaning of this day is “Don’t fear Death, appreciate every moment you have and live life to the fullest”. Just with these deeper life lessons, there’s no denying El Día de los Muertos cannot be compared with Halloween. Nowadays the latter is more of a commercial holiday for children than a celebration.

Instead El Día de los Muertos has ancient origins and is traditionally celebrated by everyone. The first example of this celebration can be found in pre- Colombian cultures. Rituals celebrating passed away ancestors are dated back 2,500–3,000 years. The festival that was the ancient version of El Día de los Muertos  fell in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, about the beginning of August, and was celebrated for the entire month. The festivities were dedicated to the "Lady of the Dead". The representation of the goddess was recently replaced with La Calavera Catrina ("The Elegant Skull"), a famous print created by José Guadalupe Posada as a parody of a Mexican upper-class female. The shocking image of a costumed female with a skeleton face is now one of the most popular figures of the celebration.

El Día de los Muertos allows the dead to live again. During this time it is believed that the deceased return to their earthly homes to visit and rejoice with their loved ones. Author Frances Ann Day in his book “Latina and Latino Voices in Literature: Lives and Works” summarizes all the Mexican celebrations, saying:

“On October 31, All Hallows Eve, the children make a children's altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit. November 1 is All Saints Day, and the adult spirits will come to visit. November 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives. The three-day fiesta filled with marigolds, the flowers of the dead; muertos (the bread of the dead); sugar skulls; cardboard skeletons; tissue paper decorations; fruit and nuts; incense, and other traditional foods and decorations.”
This is exactly what happens during these days. Setting up altars with offerings, cleaning and decorating graves, holding all-night graveside vigils and telling funny and touching stories about the deceased is the perfect way to remember the loved ones who unfortunately but inevitably left this world.

And If you like Halloween only for sweets, don’t worry. You’ll not be disappointed. You’ll never see a traditional celebration of El Día de los Muertos without Calaveras, sugar or chocolate skulls with complex and fantastic decorations. A perfect gift for both the living and the dead, this sweet skulls are now the “must have” food on the holiday table. Another holiday food include “el pan de muerto”, a sweet egg bread made in various shapes from plain rounds to skulls and rabbits, often decorated with white frosting to look like twisted bones. You’ll surely recognize it.

During El Día de los Muertos, the lights of graves brighten the night sky 
This colorful holiday should be celebrated everywhere to make people understand that death is not the end, it’s simply a new start. And now I would like to cite a quote of Albus Dumbledore that fits perfectly:

Do not pity the dead, pity the living. Above all, pity those who live without love.

Personally the main reason I love this period is because November 1st is my birthday. So, between pumpkins and skeletons, I’ll blow out some candles. Have a good life :)
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