Culture around Spanish language

Complete Guide to the Day of the Dead in Mexico

The Day of the Dead in Mexico is an indigenous tradition whose roots go back to pre-Hispanic times. It is a joyous festival dominated by homemade costumes and involves the transitory return of the souls of the dead. They return to the world of the living, to the homes of their relatives, to nourish themselves with the food offered to them on the altars lovingly set up in their honour.

The Day of the Dead is a celebration of life, to use the antithesis. This popular tradition encompasses several material and philosophical meanings in which the main thing is to bring the family together and pay homage to those who are no longer with us.

Origin of the Festivity

The festivity is celebrated on 1st and 2nd November. November 1st is All Saints’ Day for Catholics, so the celebration is dedicated to children or muertos chiquitos, and on November 2nd, some Christian groups celebrate All Souls’ Day, which venerates adults.

The Day of the Dead involves the coexistence of Catholics and indigenous people. On the one hand, the Spanish brought Catholicism to Latin America, and on the other hand, the original indigenous peoples, such as the Zapotecs and Mixtecs, included the concept of veneration of the dead in the Catholic calendar. This date coincides with the end of the cultivation of maize, Mexico’s main crop.

The Altars for the Offering

Tombs and cemeteries are decorated with flowers, sometimes even altars are set up in the same place as in the indigenous culture. In this way, the souls are transcended on the right path after death.

Marigold flowers (called cempasuchil flowers in México) decorate the offerings, ofrendas, on the altars along with papel picado (carved garland), a dish of the food that the loved one liked the most, sugar skull sweets, pan de muerto (Day of the Dead’s bread) and mole. The altars also include a photograph of the loved ones being honoured. Symbolic of the adaptation of the culture to pre-Hispanic times is the inclusion of incense to scent the scene.

A small path of marigolds with candles is also made so that the souls do not get lost in the attempt to reach their families. Marigolds are born in autumn and their orange and yellow petals mark the path that the dead must follow. This flower holds the warmth of the sun and the scent it gives off calls to the souls.

Altars usually have several levels. The two-tiered ones usually recreate earth and heaven, and the three-tiered ones include heaven, earth and purgatory. There is also a seven-tiered version that represents the seven steps to enter the afterlife or the seven deadly sins. Here we have another example of the coexistence of indigenous and Catholic cultures.

Each offering includes elements that correspond to the four elements: earth, water, air and fire. 

Influence Around the World

The Day of Dead’s make-up and homemade costumes have crossed borders and are used in celebrations all over the world. In the United States, Mexican make-up is a staple of Halloween parties.

Mexican culture derived from the Day of Dead has also been reflected in the seventh art with films such as Disney’s Coco and Spectre, from the James Bond franchise.

Millions of tourists flock every year to see how this traditional and unique holiday is celebrated, whether in small towns or in Mexico City, with its parade commemorating the day. Whatever the case, if you are visiting Mexico during these days, always do so with the respect it deserves.

Day of the Dead, a UNESCO Heritage Site  

Since 2008, the Day of the Dead in Mexico has been part of UNESCO’s cultural heritage because of the importance and significance of the festivity, which expresses both contemporary and living traditions, integrates cultures, and is communal and representative. As you can tell, Mexican culture is rich. Don’t forget to use iScribo’s spelling and grammar checker to improve the level of your Spanish documents. iScribo distinguishes between the different variants of Spanish. Check it out with our artificial intelligence-based tool.

Writing in Spanish

9 Expressions and Idioms in Spanish Easy to Learn

Spanish language has an endless number of expressions worthy of the most creative minds. Many of these idioms in Spanish have very curious stories that were born in past centuries.

Popular sayings vary from region to region and from country to country – what can we say about the diversity of Spanish! All the variants we appreciate are what make our language so rich and diverse.

Discover different ways of expressing situations like a real Spanish speaker. iScribo explains how to say some everyday Spanish expressions in a vivid way.

Expressions with Household Utensils

1. En casa de herrero, cuchillo de palo (the shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot): Apart from Spain, this is a very popular saying in Latin America. It means that someone lacks something they should have. It is also used when children do not follow the same career path as their parents.

— Tú eres profesor de inglés, seguro que hay algún diccionario por aquí.

— ¡No tengo ninguno! En casa de herrero, cuchillo de palo.

(You’re an English teacher, I’m sure there’s a dictionary around here somewhere.

I don’t have one! The shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot.)

2. Irse la olla (to lose your marbles): There are variants such as irse la pinza. Its origin goes back to the time of Louis XV of France, when the pot containing the entire court’s dinner disappeared. It had been a joke by the kitchen helpers, but it was decided that it was the cooker’s fault because he was mad.

Se me ha ido la olla y no he cerrado la puerta de casa al salir.

(I lost my marbles, I didn’t close the door when I left the house.)

3. Pagar los platos rotos (to pay the price): When you unjustly suffer the consequences of an action committed by a third party. Another expression that means the same thing is pagar el pato or cargar con el mochuelo. Its origin dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries when the Christian society charged against the Jewish people.

He pagado los platos rotos por tu culpa.

(I have paid the price for you.)

Expressions with Animals

4. Dar gato por liebre (to take for a ride): To deceive or cheat someone. The expression dates back to the Middle Ages, when due to the similarity of the two animals, cat was served as the main course but was advertised as a hare instead.

Creía que este bolso era verdadero pero me han dado gato por liebre.

(I thought this bag was original, but I’ve been taken for a ride!)

5. Ver las orejas al lobo (to see the writing on the wall): Means that you have become aware of imminent danger. Its origin is unknown.

Están despidiendo a mucha gente en mi trabajo y le he visto las orejas al lobo.

(A lot of people are being made redundant at my job and I’ve seen the writing on the wall.)

6. Tener memoria de elefante: (to have an elephant’s memory): To have a brilliant memory. It comes from a study published in the 19th century in which the brains of some animals were measured. It was surprising that elephants had this muscle very well developed and, moreover, their learning capacity was extraordinary. The opposite expression is tener memoria de pez (to have a goldfish memory.)

Marcos se acuerda de lo que hizo hace diez años, tiene memoria de elefante. Yo, en cambio, tengo memoria de pez.

(Marcos remembers what he did ten years ago, he has the memory of an elephant. I, on the other hand, have the memory of a goldfish.)

Expressions with Colours

7. Verlo de color de rosa (to see all peaches and cream): It means that someone is too optimistic. It comes from the 19th century when optimistic ladies became interested in current affairs.

El examen no es tan fácil, lo ves todo de color de rosa.

(The test is not so easy, you see all peaches and cream.)

8. Poner verde a alguien (to call someone every name in the book): It means that someone is being criticised. The origin is uncertain, one of the theories is that when food expires, it turns green. However, all the supposed origins coincide with the negativity of the expression.

No deberíais poner verde a Carla si ella no está delante, qué mala educación.

(You shouldn’t call Carla every name in the book if she’s not here, that’s rude.

9. Ponerse morado/a (to fill your boots): overeating until you can’t eat anymore. There is also the variant ponerse ciego/a or ponerse las botas. Its origin is purely medical, as there is a disease called cyanosis, which consists of having breathing problems after having eaten too much and the skin turning purple.

Me puse morada en la boda de Pepe, qué rica estaba la comida.

(I filled my boots at Pepe’s wedding, the food was so good.)

Expressions for All Tastes

Idioms in Spanish are used on a daily basis. Knowing the expressions of all the Spanish-speaking countries is a complicated task, as there are countless of them.

The best way to learn them correctly is to use them over and over again until they stick in your mind. Don’t forget to use iScribo’s spelling and grammar checker to improve the level of your Spanish documents. Ensure the correct spelling of your Spanish documents with our artificial intelligence-based tool.

Culture around Spanish language

The Caló Language – A Symbol Beyond Flamenco

Caló, or gypsy language, grew out of Romani and some Romance languages such as Spanish and Catalan between the 15th and 18th centuries. Caló is represented as the Romani adapting itself to Spanish, which in turn descends from Sanskrit, although not officially.

Caló is nowadays in disuse, only a few thousand people and some flamenco singers keep the habit of using and propagating this language. Languages are a social issue and Caló is no exception. The historical, cultural and, above all, political reasons are vital to understanding the influence of languages on society.

At iScribo, we pay homage to a real language that has influenced Spanish over the centuries.

Caló Words in Spanish

There are many words and expressions that we use in Spanish that come directly from Caló. Some of them are:


It is a colloquial way of saying “to go away” and has a variant, darse el piro. Not to be confused with pirado/a, which is a colloquial way of saying that someone is crazy and has nothing to do with it.

Me piro, hasta mañana.

(I’m going now, see you tomorrow.)


It is a colloquial form to express that someone is shy and it is used with the verb dar.

No voy a ir a tu casa, me da lache.

(I’m not going to go to your house, I’m shy.)


It indicates an outright refusal.

Nanay. ¡Que no pienso ir!

(No. There is no way I’m going!)


It’s used more than you think, it has even made the leap into the cultured language. It means “to pretend” but with a dramatic vibe that Spanish love.

No llores más, todo esto es un paripé.

Don’t cry anymore, you are faking it.

Caló Language in Flamenco

Flamenco artists naturally wave the flag of Caló. Some of those who have released albums in Caló are La Chiqui de Jerez with Sinar Caló Sinela un Pochibo (El orgullo de ser gitano, or The Pride of Being Gipsy in English), which is a compilation of her career. Remedios Amaya also sang in Caló, which, by the way, represented Spain at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1983.

There is a flamenco palo, a style of dancing within flamenco, called debla. It is Caló and means “goddess”.

Expand your knowledge of Caló

Knowledge can fill a room but takes up no space. Delve a little deeper into the Caló language through flamenco or with books like Penar Ocono by José Heredia Maya. It is worth learning a little more about Spanish culture and the languages that enrich Spanish. And don’t forget to use iScribo’s spelling and grammar checker to improve the level of your Spanish documents.

Improving language

How AI Can Help You Improve Your Written Spanish

Artificial intelligence (AI) and the NPL language were born to make our lives easier. Through a system powered by algorithms, we can save time, resources and money when writing documents in Spanish.

The image that a text gives about the person who writes it can determine important decisions at work, academic or personal level.

With the help of technology and advances in this field, it is possible to make fewer and fewer typos and grammatical mistakes. iScribo is a corrector that works with artificial intelligence and tells you in real-time if you have written something wrong, as well as giving you suggestions to improve your communication.

Learn more about AI and how it has become the star component of iScribo in this article.

What are NPL and AI?

Artificial intelligence and natural language processing (NLP) are two branches of data science. In other words, it is the field of study that encompasses human language through machines.

As you can see, AI and NLP work together with other sciences depending on their purpose. For iScribo, there are other sciences that come into play, for example linguistics, which teaches the rules of Spanish language for AI to create algorithms.

To learn, artificial intelligence feeds on experience. The more data it has, which it collects through algorithms and rules, the more accurate it can become.

With the help of these technologies, machines can be trained to perform specific tasks, which process amounts of data by creating patterns. The more this tool is used and fed, the more it will learn and the more accurate it will become.

How does it work?

iScribo’s artificial intelligence uses machine learning algorithms to identify the typos and other mistakes you make when writing in Spanish and correct them. iScribo benefits from this science in more ways than one, as it also suggests synonyms and improves the register and tone of your document.

Thanks to the context, even if you haven’t made any mistakes in your writing, iScribo’s AI improves the writing of your document to a higher level. When you write a word, the AI has already learned the word’s associations, so it will know exactly what needs to go with it – even before you write it!

To give you an idea, the “brain” of a computer simulates the structure of the human brain, with a number of connections, which would be our neurons, so that everything works correctly.

Why do we need AI?

Artificial intelligence brings us countless advantages. One of them is the precision it achieves through the neural networks of which it is composed.

Another is that AI provides greater intelligence to elements that already existed. Basic spelling and grammar checkers have always existed, but AI makes them faster and more efficient.

It also automates learning with a large amount of data in a reliable way. Whether machines will be able to replace humans will be discussed another day, but human research is vital for AI to work.

AI also makes as much use as possible of the data it collects. We call this self-learning and it works in the same way as it does in people. The things we have learned in the past help us to make better decisions in the present and to perform tasks in an optimised way.

The last one we are going to mention in this post is that AI allows the collected data to be programmed thanks to progressive learning algorithms. So if you write ojalá pude ir a la fiesta, iScribo will automatically tell you that the correct thing to say would have been ojalá hubiera podido ir a la fiesta.

Take Advantage of the Benefits of Technology

As rational animals, we are always looking for ways to improve our quality of life and reduce everyday tasks so that we can spend more time on what really matters. AI and NPL have come into our lives to make it easier. Use iScribo’s spelling and grammar checker to improve the standard of your documents, whether it’s an email, a university paper or your company’s newsletter. Benefit from the privileges that artificial intelligence offers us and stop committing typos and other grammar errors in Spanish!

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