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Google Doodle honors Day of the Dead with its own altar

The holiday celebrates death as a part of life rather than something to be feared.

Google celebrates Day of the Dead.

Google

El Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is an ancient holiday that celebrates death and loved ones who've passed on.

Google on Thursday is joining the holiday, observed each year on Nov. 2, with its own Doodle altar to the dead. The celebration traditionally features gatherings in which families pray and remember relatives and friends who have died and help them with their spiritual journey.

Rather than mournful events, the holiday celebrates death as a part of the cycle of life, thereby dispelling fear of dying. The holiday also often serves as a source of comfort and community.

Those who observe the holiday adorn their homes and cemeteries with colorful ofrendas, or altars, surrounded by food such as pan de muertos (bread of dead) and pictures and mementos of deceased loved ones. Altars are commonly decorated with orange Mexican marigolds, sugar skulls and burning candles.

El Dia de los Muertos traces its roots to the Aztec empire, but the holiday has spread around the world, being absorbed by a variety of cultures wishing to honor their dead in a joyous rather than sorrowful manner. The holiday has also received greater attention since the release last year of Pixar's Coco, the tale of a boy who is magically transported to the colorful Land of the Dead, where he meets his late family members.