Day of the Dead Photos: See What Día de los Muertos Celebrations Look Like Around the World

Day of the Dead celebrations are colorful and vibrant—see for yourself. Chris Jackson/Getty

Revelers across Mexico and Central and South America have spent the past few days in a whirlwind of tradition that includes facepaint, candles and graveside visits while observing the Day of the Dead. The Día de los Muertos celebrations spanned Wednesday and Thursday, with some events honoring the victims of two devastating earthquakes earlier this year, according to The New York Times. About 500 people were killed.

The Day of the Dead festivities typically begin on Halloween night, which is when the gates of heaven open, according to legend. The souls of deceased children can then come down to Earth and reunite with their families every year on November 1. The same happens with the souls of deceased adults on November 2.

Related: What is Day of the Dead? How to celebrate Dia de los Muertos without being offensive

The souls are welcomed with altars, parties, decorations and special foods. Many participants spend all night in their local cemeteries honoring their lost loved ones, cleaning their graves and giving them offerings like candles, according to Time.

"The tradition is you invite people to your house for pan de muerto and then you go to the cemetery. You eat food there, drink tequila or mezcal, and that's the celebration," Martha Rodríguez-Salazar, who was born in Mexico but now lives in San Francisco, told NBC News. "You want to leave your door open because a stranger can bring a spirit of your loved one. You never know."

This year's celebration was big, with some 300,000 people turning out to watch a Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City. It was especially poignant following the two major earthquakes—one magnitude 8.2, the other 7.1—that rocked the country in September. And it was also slightly controversial, as many Mexicans fretted about the possibility that Halloween could overtake their traditions or ruin them.

Charlene Villaseñor Black, a University of California—Los Angeles professor of Ibero-American art and Chicana/Chicano studies, told the Los Angeles Times she believed "the melding together of Halloween and Day of the Dead is becoming more apparent."

USA Today even published an article flatly declaring, "No, Día de los Muertos isn't 'Mexican Halloween,'" noting the differences between the events and explaining the importance of honoring one's ancestors.

No matter where you were, however, the festivities this week were going strong. Take a look at a few photos and videos showcasing the holiday:

Hablar del #DíaDeMuertos en #Michoacán, es hablar de tradiciones, ofrendas, historia, altares y raíces prehispánicas. #ElAlmaDeMéxico

— Daniela De Los Santos (@daniDlosantos) November 1, 2017
Revelers take part in a parade called 'La Calabiuza' on November 1, 2017, on the eve of the Day of the Dead in Tonacatepeque in El Salvador. Marvin Recinos/AFP/Getty
People in El Salvador celebrate on November 1, 2017. Marvin Recinos/AFP/Getty

Hundreds of people have left notes at the Dia de los Muertos altar in front of LA City Hall

— Colleen Shalby (@CShalby) November 1, 2017
Offerings of the Jilotepec pantheon are seen as part of the 'Day of the Dead' celebration on November 1, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico. Hector Vivas/Getty
A man adorns a tomb with plastic flowers and candles at Cayenne's cemetery in French Guiana on the All Saints Day on November 1, 2017. Jody Amiet/AFP/Getty

¿Desfile de calaveras? 💀 miles de personas celebran 'La Catrina', desfile previo al 'Día de los Muertos' en México ►

— Ecuavisa (@ecuavisa) October 23, 2017
An aspect of a traditional Mexican offering is placed outside a building damaged by the September 19th earthquake. Hector Vivas/Getty
An activist made-up as 'Catrina' participates in a demonstration against feminicide on the eve of the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico City, November 1, 2017. Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty

Guatemalans participate in the Day of the Dead festivities, decorating their loved ones' graves and wearing colorful costumes at a parade

— AFP News Agency (@AFP) November 2, 2017
People pose with skulls during an exhibition and contest of offerings promoted by the Historic Center Foundation on the eve of the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico City, November 1, 2017. Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty