Day of the Dead / Día de los Muertos

Día de los Muertos is a Mexican Holiday celebrated with colorful flowers and sugar skulls, dancing skeletons and homemade altars (ofrendas). The observance pays homage to the deceased, and is intended as an affirmation to life and creativity. It is traditionally held on November 1st and 2nd. Families gather at the gravesites of their departed loved ones, bringing them food, drink, candy, marigolds, music and conversation. They remember the dead with closeness, not fear.

Day of the Dead altar

We were introduced to this beautiful practice several years ago when we moved to New Mexico, and the custom has spread worldwide, sometimes being incorporated with other traditions that honor the dead. Just this past weekend, Mexico City held its first Day of the Dead parade, full of floats, giant skeleton marionettes and hundreds of actors, dancers and acrobats in costumes. The extravaganza was not a tradition; the inspiration to do it came from the 2015 James Bond movie Spectre. The film’s opening scenes were shot in Mexico City, showing Bond chasing a villain through floats and crowds of revelers in skeleton outfits.

Day of the Dead revelers

So while Hollywood is bringing some changes to the traditional Mexican Holiday, influences from our South of the Border neighbors can also be seen here in the States; Mexican-inspired “sugar skulls” are popular for Halloween costumes and decor, and more people are also dressing up as “La Catrina”, Lady Death. La Catrina is a beloved and deeply rooted symbol in the Mexican psyche. Scholars traced the Day of the Dead holiday back to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl, the Lady of the Dead that rules the underworld. La Calavera Catrina, also known as “Dapper Skeleton” or “Elegant Skull”, originated from a 1910–1913 zinc etching by famous Mexican printmaker and lithographer José Guadalupe Posada. He took his inspiration from the goddess of death herself, Mictecacihuatl. La Catrina represents the Mexican culture’s attitude toward death, their ability to treat it with familiarity, hospitality, and even humor instead of dread. Her fancy attire also symbolized the rich, and a reminder that death makes us all equal in the end.

La Catrina


La Catrina

Today and tomorrow is the perfect time to affirm life and family. A good-for-you dessert/breakfast that’s fun to make with the kids is this sugar skull fruit cookie cake, loaded with healthy fresh fruit and a yogurt-based cream cheese frosting!

Sugar Skull Fruit Cookie Cake, by growingupbilingual

Order and instantly download this sugar skull clipart today! Make decorations, put them on stationary, in your journal, photo album…

Sugar Skull ClipArt, by PinkPueblo on Etsy

A creative activity for kids (ok, adults will like them too) are these printable sugar skull coloring masks. Fun, and you can order them right now!

Printable sugar skull coloring mask, by KudzuMonster on Etsy

While the kids are coloring their sugar skull masks, put on yours! Here’s some inspiration…

Sugar Skull makeup


La Catrina makeup

I am so drawn to these colorful sugar skulls! If you’re crafty, start designing and stitching some of these little guys this winter so you’ll have a set for next year 🙂

Embroidered Sugar Skulls

This beautifully designed sterling silver sugar skull pendant will keep the love of your ancestors close to your heart all year round.

Sterling Silver Sugar Skull Pendant, by TheJewelryGirlsPlace on Etsy

Can you feel the energy of your ancestors? They want you to know you are here because of generations of love…

Please feel free to share this post! Mid-Autumn Blessings to you!




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2 thoughts on “Day of the Dead / Día de los Muertos

  1. Dayan Cameron

    I have lived in Mexico and observed the reverence for departed relatives. This special day remembers and honors the ones who passed on with food and prayers and stories.They feel a special closeness on this day to the departed ones and it has a celebratory air of festivity.
    The images you presented are wonderful – colorfully creative and gives the urge to have fun and joyfully participate. I am a great believer in rituals to soothe the soul and to enjoy this ritual is an added bonus! Thank you for sharing with this delightful post!

    • How wonderful to have observed this firsthand in Mexico, what a special experience! Thank you for the lovely comment, Dayan, so glad you enjoyed this post!

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