Despite its prevalence of faces made up as skulls, Dia de los Muertos should not be confused with Halloween because it's not intended to be a spooky day. It's a day to honor and pay respect to deceased family members.
Dia de los Muertos — Day of the Dead — originated in central and southern Mexico. Those who celebrate it believe that at midnight on Oct. 31, the souls of deceased children come down from heaven and reunite with their families Nov. 1, and the souls of deceased adults visit Nov. 2.
Believing ancestors would not like mourning or sadness, Dia de los Muertos instead celebrates the lives of the deceased with food, drink, parties and activities that the dead enjoyed in life.
Families create colorful altars in their homes to welcome and honor these loved ones. They decorate them in flowers, candles, pictures and favorite foods of those deceased family members.
A popular Dia de los Muertos image is that of a tall female skeleton wearing a large hat, La Catrina. It is common to see her and her male counterpart, Catrin, embodied as part of the celebrations of Day of the Dead.
Five Dia de los Muertos parties are planned around the region. Here's where to join the celebration.
Dalton Celebrates Dia de los Muertos
* Where: Creative Arts Guild, 520 W. Waugh St., Dalton, Ga.
* When: 5-10:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2
* Admission: Free
* For more information: 706-217-6677
Dance and music performances, an adult Catrina/Catrin costume contest and a children's costume contest are all part of the fun at this community party in Dalton.
Music by Sexto Elemento will kick off the fun at 5 o'clock. Singers Jenny Arana and Yunuen Meza, the Xochipille Dance Group, musicians Heidi Haggard and David Rogers and Aztec Dance troupe will perform during the event.
Sample Latino food, browse clothing and jewelry vendors or compete in the lantern-decorating contest or altar contest. Don't miss the lantern, costume and mask parade scheduled at 7:25 p.m. For kids, there will be face-painting, arts and crafts and a lantern contest.
Parking will be available at First Baptist Church, 311 N. Thornton Ave., with a shuttle provided to and from the venue.
Dia de los Muertos at Cooper's Alley
* Where: The Mad Priest/Coffee & Cocktails, 719 Cherry St.
* When: 8 p.m.-midnight Saturday, Nov. 2
* Admission: Free, but reserve tickets on Eventbrite
* For more information: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dia-de-los-muertos-cocktail-party-tickets-76942520149
In conjunction with The Mad Priest's one-year anniversary, ChattTaste and Poblanos Mexican Cuisine are partnering to throw a Dia de los Muertos party you don't want to miss.
Cooper's Alley will be full of flags, decorations, flowers, candles, music and vendors.
Come out for music, street tacos from Poblanos, tequila and cocktail bar from The Mad Priest, sugar skull face-painting by Shaina Ramsey, flower crowns by Joli Jardin, clothing and jewelry by Ayelet's Style.
The centerpiece will be a massive, beautiful Ofrenda, so bring copies of pictures of your loved ones who have passed on to celebrate their lives.
Dia de los Muertos Children's Party
* Where: Creative Discovery Museum, 321 Chestnut St.
* When: Noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2
* Admission: $14.95 ages 2 and older, $11.95 senior adults over age 65, $9.94 military, free for police and firefighters with ID
* For more information: https://www.cdmfun.org/calendar
The children's museum has planned an event that is a colorful, vibrant, happy time for children and adults to come together and celebrate the living while honoring the past.
Guests will explore different ways Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and Guatemala, taste traditional foods, watch Mexican and Guatemalan folkloric dance, make marigold paper flowers, create small and large-scale kites and see an altar display.
Comida for a Cause: Dia de los Muertos
* Where: Embargo 62, 301 Cherokee Blvd.
* When: 6-9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1
* Admission: Free, food and drink purchases additional
* For more information: 423-624-8414
Comida translates to "eating/dining" or "food," and that's exactly what Dining for a Cause will be since 15% of all sales Friday night at Embarge 62 will be donated to La Paz Chattanooga.
The fundraiser will include a contest for the best Catrina and Catrin costumes
Dia de los Muertos Latin Dance Social
* Where: Mexiville North Shore, 103 Cherokee Blvd., Suite C
* When: 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 1
* Admission: $5 early-bird entry 9-10 p.m., $7 entry 10 p.m.-1 a.m., cash or credit card at the door
* For more information: 423-498-5375
Hosted by XCeed Events, come dance the night away to favorite Latin jams: salsa, bachata, merengue and reggaeton.
There will be food and drink specials with music by DJ Face. Costumes are encouraged, but not required.