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Mexican and Latin American cultures celebrate: The Day of the Dead

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This day is el Dia de los Muertos - in English, the Day of the Dead - which is mainly observed in Latin American cultures.

NOEL KING, HOST:

It's a chance to celebrate the lives of people that we've lost, and one way that's done is by decorating an altar with an image of the person, along with things and food and drink that remind us of their life. It's called an ofrenda, or offering.

INSKEEP: In the spirit of el Dia de los Muertos, the Los Angeles Times web team built its own sort of altar, which allows readers to upload digital ofrendas along with a couple of lines of remembrance.

KING: Fidel Martinez is an editor on that team, and he says that this idea, which has taken off, grew from a conversation among Latino staffers at the Times. For him, this day is about his grandpa.

FIDEL MARTINEZ: It wasn't until my grandfather passed away a few years ago - I was wholly unprepared to deal with the grief and that loss. And so for me, it's what got me into the celebration.

INSKEEP: This year, he's decorated his home altar with his grandfather's photo, some traditional marigolds and a shot of mezcal. Cheers.

KING: Cheers. He also added a tiny wooden figure of a bull because his grandpa's dream was to be a bullfighter. He posted on the LA Times page as well.

MARTINEZ: So this is the ofrenda that I wrote for Luis Isabel Martinez, my grandfather on my dad's side. And here's what I wrote. They say he was a meek man, alguien bien calladito, but I always knew it took great courage to leave everything he'd known just to plant the American seeds that have now bore three generations. Te extrano mucho abuelito.

INSKEEP: Fidel's grandfather was a big fan of bolero music, so, Luis Isabel Martinez, this is for you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MI CAFETAL")

LOS PANCHOS: (Singing in Spanish). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.