The Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a traditional Mexican celebration, and immediately follows Halloween. It, like Halloween, features lots of skeletons and imagery of death, but in contrast is a way to honour and remember those who have passed: ancestors, grandparents, parents, children and even pets. A colourful, vibrant and fun family celebration of life you may also want to try out.
PUT UP PAPEL PICADO
These are paper banners with cut out designs of animated skeleton figures strung up overhead decorating the ofrendas, homes, streets and buildings symbolising the wind, one of the elements of life.
Altars are built featuring photos of loved ones, their favourite foods and skeleton figurines. Candles are placed around as a guide and to light the path of the spirits to their “ofrendas” (altars).
Decorate the altars or tables with real or paper marigold flowers. Whilst these are symbolic of death for the Aztec culture in pre-Colombian Mexico and are called the “flor de muerto” (Flower of Death) marigolds are actually edible, and make a delicious addition to salads.
Traditional foods for the celebration includes Pan de Muerto – a sweetbread flavoured with anise and orange peel; baked in a round shape like a skull to symbolize the main state of human life. But be assured other typical Mexican foods like tortilla chips, sweet corn guacamole and shredded chicken are sure to be served.
CALAVERITAS DE AZUCAR
For dessert, favourites like churros and conchas are made but also specifically Calaveritas de Azucar: wildly decorated sugar skulls designed with sugar flowers and the name of the loved one written on the forehead – representing death and the sweetness of life. Likewise, decorations and dress up costumes mimic these sugar skulls.
EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY
Create a makeshift bar offering Mexican beers, sodas and margaritas; add music, dancing, costume parades and you are guaranteed fun and laughter. It’s a beautiful tradition of bringing back and sharing happy memories of those we have lost.
Click here for our free Día de los Muertos printable decorations featured in this post!