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How is the Day of the Dead Celebrated?

How is the Day of the Dead Celebrated?

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is the result of a blending of early Mesoamerican, including Aztec and Mayan, and Spanish Christian traditions. Day of the Dead honors loved ones who have passed as the Aztecs had celebrations honoring their goddess of the dead. Catholic culture helped define the time period for these celebrations as Day of the Dead occurs at the same time as All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day, often from October 31st to November 2nd. Both cultures held a strong belief in the continuation of existence after death and believed in remembering and honoring the dead. The combination of cultural and religious elements has produced its own unique set of imagery and traditions for honoring the dead.

Day of the Dead Cutouts The image of the Aztec goddess of the dead has evolved over the years to correspond to La Calavera Catrina, an image of a skeleton dressed in clothing befitting an upper class European woman in the early 1900’s. This image has become closely tied to Day of the Dead art and has influenced artistic representations, decorations, and even makeup for the day. Day of the Dead costumes and Day of the Dead masks often reflect the image of Catrina and las calaveras.

Catrina is often pictured with a male skeleton, also finely dressed. These images are tied both to traditional representations of the goddess and god of death and to political statements of the time. The humorous images of dressed skeletons remind us that death is the greatest equalizer of classes and that it is not to be feared, as it represents the beginning of a new life. These skeletal images influenced the art used in Jointed Day of the Dead SkeletonPartyCheap’s Jointed Day of the Dead Skeletons. The Day of the Dead Cutouts feature La Calavera Catrina herself! PartyCheap’s decorations for the Day of Dead feature the bright colors, images, and traditions associated with the holiday.

Another of the traditional Day of the Dead decorations is the sugar skull. Sugar skulls are decorations used to adorn the altar honoring a deceased person. These skulls are made of sugar, chocolate, or clay and are decorated with bright colors, often having the name of the person they’re meant to honor written on the forehead. Some of PartyCheap’s “calaveras” include the Day of the Dead Male Tea Light Holder and the Day of the Dead Photo/Balloon Holder.

Participants believe that these are the days on which the dead may come back to walk the earth. The altars are meant to encourage visitation from deceased loved ones, so that they may be reunited with their families in celebrations of life. Trinkets or foods that the deceased person enjoyed are used in the forming of the altar. Candy and sweets like the sugar skulls are especially used for the altar of a lost child. The Day of the Dead Altar Prop features a picture of the traditional altar. In recent years, sugar skulls have become a staple of the holiday, not just for altars, but for joyous consumption and general decoration. They are now widely available for purchase in the days leading up to Day of the Dead and can be used as a great crafting activity with your kids to teach them the importance of this cultural holiday. Here is a tutorial about how to make your own sugar skulls, as well as an excellent resource regarding history and traditions of the holiday. A sugar skull party would be a fun activity for everyone to make and decorate their own calaveras in preparation for the holiday! Day of the Dead Altar Prop

Traditional Day of the Dead foods include the candies and sugar skulls, as well as a traditional dish called pan de muerte, or “bread of the dead.” It is a sweet bread made in a bun-shape often decorated with bone-like images. You can find a recipe for the bread of the dead here!

Dia de los Muertos is a vibrant holiday, blending both levity and solemnity. It is a sacred day to remember and honor those who’ve died, as well as a day to have fun and celebrate life and lives lived. Enjoy your holiday and let PartyCheap help you decorate your party to perfection with plenty of Day of the Dead decoration ideas!