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Death takes a holiday

Day of the Dead stamps arrive Sept. 30

The Day of the Dead stamps feature stylized, decorated skulls, perhaps the holiday’s most recognizable symbol.

The Postal Service will release its Day of the Dead stamps on Sept. 30.

Dia de los Muertos, as it is known in Spanish, is observed Nov. 1-2 and is an amalgam of Roman Catholic and Indigenous Mexican traditions. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recognized the holiday in 2008 as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The celebration — despite what can seem like ghoulish imagery, it is a joyful, festive occasion — centers around the idea that the spirits of the departed return to the land of the living at this time. Offerings of the spirits’ favorite food and drink are placed on altars bedecked with marigolds and crafts to lure them.

Decorated skulls, or calaveras, are perhaps the most recognizable symbol of the holiday. Each of the four stamps features one, together forming a family: a mustachioed father, a mother with curls, a daughter with her hair in a bow, and another child.

The bright white of the skulls is accented with vibrantly colored embellishments, set off by a matte black background.

Luis Fitch was the stamps’ illustrator and designer and Antonio Alcalá provided the art direction.

The Forever stamps are available at Post Offices and at