The Times podcast: How Día de los Muertos flourished in the U.S.

A girl with floral skull features painted over half her face
Hailey Flores, 12, had her face painted during Día de los Muertos festivities in San Diego County’s Eternal Hills Memorial Park in 2019.
(Hayne Palmour IV / San Diego Union-Tribune)

For decades, late October meant one holiday in American popular culture: Halloween. But over the last couple of decades, more and more people are also marking another fall festival: Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.


Today, we get into how this Mexican holiday took hold in the United States: its history, its customs, how it’s different here from the way it’s observed in Mexico. We talk to L.A. Times culture reporter Daniel Hernandez, who has written extensively about the subject. And we talk to Alexis Meza de los Santos, a mexicana who grew up in Kentucky and has seen Día de los Muertos spread across the South.

Host: Gustavo Arellano

Guests: L.A. Times culture reporter Daniel Hernandez and Alexis Meza de los Santos, Latinx/Hispanic diversity recruiter in the University of Kentucky undergraduate admissions office

More reading:

Contribute to our digital Día de Muertos altar

Here’s the story behind Día de Muertos altars — and how you can build one

Tamales, salt and bread ‘bones’: How foods are central to Day of the Dead

About The Times

“The Times” is made by columnist Gustavo Arellano, senior producer Denise Guerra and producers Shannon Lin, Melissa Kaplan and Ashlea Brown. Our engineer is Mario Diaz. Our editors are Lauren Raab and Shani O. Hilton. Our theme song was composed by Andrew Eapen.