Who celebrates Día de los Muertos in the United States?

Though Día de los Muertos is a holiday celebrated in Mexico, the changing landscape of the United States means that a lot more people are celebrating Day of the Dead on this side of the border.

According to a study released in 2012 by the Pew Hispanic Center about Hispanic origin profiles of those living in the United States (whether U.S. born or foreign born), people with Mexican ancestry or who are Mexican by birth make up nearly 65 percent of all Hispanics in the U.S.

Day of the Dead mini altar on theothersideofthetortilla.com

Of course, this makes me happy because it means there are a lot of people like us who are looking to stay connected to their heritage whether by food, culture or traveling to Mexico (or at least reading about it).

RELATED: How to make sugar skulls for Day of the Dead

Golin, a worldwide public relations agency, conducted a nationwide survey of Hispanic adults in 2012 looking at who celebrates this holiday in the United States, why, and how they celebrate.

Here are their findings:

  • 28 percent of the people surveyed said they celebrate Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
  • The top three ways in which people celebrate this holiday include buying or baking pan de muerto (25 percent), visiting a cemetery (21 percent) and building an altar (17 percent).
  • The top five reasons why people said they celebrate Day of the Dead include family togetherness (52 percent), maintaining traditions (51 percent), the food associated with the traditions (46 percent), teaching the traditions to their children (39 percent) and having the ability to share the best of both worlds of their Latino and American heritage (37 percent).
  • Where are people celebrating Día de los Muertos? Of those surveyed, 37 percent lived in the West, 29 percent in the Northeast, 27 percent in the Midwest and 21 percent in the South of the United States.

Who celebrates Day of the Dead in the United States? A 2012 survey of Hispanic adults revealed that 28 percent said the celebrated the holiday, with most of them going to a cemetery, building an altar or buying or baking pan de muerto in honor of loved ones who have passed. See more statistics on this Mexican holiday on theothersideofthetortilla.com.

  • We’d love to see responses in the comments: Why and how do you celebrate Día de los Muertos? (And even if you don’t live in the U.S., we still want to know!)


  1. says

    Excellent post and a very interesting one too. It’s very interesting to know that more and more people are indeed celebrating their families in this manner. Thanks for the info. I will be posting my offering later this afternoon. Thanks again.

  2. says

    We love Dia de Muertos, even though we haven’t had a chance to put up our own altar yet. More logistics and travel schedules than anything else!
    But, we got our faces painted as calacas this year and my daughter and I have been doing crafts, reading books, playing apps and so much more. Having lots of fun with it!

  3. Tracy p. says

    I am actually visiting Mexico this week. We were here for Halloween last night and here today and tomorrow for Dia de Los Muertos. (We’re in Cancun)

  4. says

    We have celebrated DotD for many years now. I always put up an altar, even though it is pretty simple: a pretty cloth, photos of loved ones – or their names if we have no photos – and some fruit and pan de muerto, which we make ourselves. On November 1st evening, we make hot chocolate (spiked for the grownups) and if I have some, light copal incense. We talk about our loved ones and tell stories about them and break bread with them. My children are small, so it’s been a time for us to talk more generally about death as well.

    This is my first DotD in Oaxaca, and Ive been enjoying the festivities greatly.

  5. says

    That is a great infographic. So true re: the changing landscape. I didn’t do anything to celebrate this year. I did take a moment to share the holiday with my kids and I showed them some pictures of the faces of skeletons and they were very intrigued by the holiday.

  6. says

    WOW! LOVE the infographic! Very cool! Thanks again for sharing our altar and story with your readers. We just finished our home altar and made pumpkin empanadas. My home smelled and reminded us of my grandma :)

  7. AnaGloria says

    Love it! This is actually the second year my family has celebrated DotD even though I was born in Mexico. We started because my husband’s mother had passed away and we wanted our children to remember her on special occassions. Then I thought, “Duh! Why haven’t I done this with my own grandmothers?”
    Well, we have made altars, buy pan de muerto, decorate calaveras, put up papel picado and make paper flowers. I go into my children’s classrooms to share our tradition by reading them a DotD book, sharing our altar, and making paper flowers. This year other parents are helping in my older child’s classroom and we are decorating calaveras, most of the children are making altars at home and bringing them to share at school. We are making paper flowers, eating pan de muerto, and we might even paint their faces like calacas.
    We also celebrated at our Botanic Gardens where they had a big fiesta!!! So much fun. Definitely see it growing here in the States! Gracias!

  8. says

    I’ve been having a good Dia de Los Muertos year…. as far as projects are concerned…. made an alter, sugar cookies and a big rice Krispie treat all in the name of DDLM. Cool piece.

  9. Pamela says

    We also celebrate Dia De Los Muertos in the Philippines. My family camp out over night and served lots of food. The only downside, they don’t dress up nor put the sugar skull face :(

  10. Antonio Robles says

    I am a Spanish professor in a community college in Texas and I teach my students how to celebrate the Day of the Dead on this side of the border. I myself go every year to San Antonio to celebrate this Mexican holiday. This fiesta allows us to be close to those family members who are not with us and to understand and appreciate the beauty and the natural cycle of life. Great information!

  11. clara says

    I have never observed Day of the Dead, although I love Halloween, and actually enjoy it in more the Day of the Dead spirit than that of Halloween.
    I do enjoy dressing in costume, and wearing makeup. I like the demonstrations of drawings on the face.
    There are lots of Mexican restaurants in my neighborhood, but I want to have my own personal celebration in memory of departed loved ones.
    I live alone, and I see no reason to let that deter me in celebrating.
    I am native of Georgia, where I still live.
    This is a simple comprehensive list of suggestions to guide me to create my own private tradition.
    Thank you for teaching me a unique way to honor my departed loved ones, including pets.

  12. Phil says

    We started celebrating Day of the Dead last year with friends. This year we skipped Halloween. I like the celebration of family. I learned how to make sugar skulls, bread of the dead and im trying to make pumpkin candy.


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