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The famous « Calaveras » are symbols of the Day of the Dead. These mexican skulls have been in vogue for a long time and can be found everywhere: from clothes to tattoos, jewellery and even on dishes! Although these skulls are very popular, do you really think you know everything about them? 🤔
1) Origins of the Calaveras
A. « El día de los muertos », a Mexican culture
Au Mexique 🇲🇽, on the Day of the Dead, « El día de Los muertos », is a true cult practiced for more than 3000 years and celebrated throughout the country.
This day is not, as is commonly thought, a Mexican version of Halloween, no. Although these events do share some traditions, including costumes and parades, this very special day of the Feast of the Dead is much more than just a celebration.
This event is even very important for Mexicans, much more important than other holidays, it is the most celebrated custom in Mexico.
This day is fundamentally important to them because, on the Day of the Dead, it was believed that the boundary between the spirit world and the real world faded away. So this is the day when the dead meet the living.
Thus, this day is not indicative of sadness but rather of party and happiness because in Mexican beliefs, the souls of the dead wake up and return to the world of the living to drink, dance and play music with their loved ones. In fact, these are real little festive reunions as if their dead were returning from a long journey, rather nice isn't it? 🥳
« El día de Los muertos » can come close or even close to Christian beliefs. For example, an altar on the Day of the Dead is dedicated to the passion of Christ. These altars are placed all over the country in houses and institutions to commemorate the dead.
In the Mesoamerican world, there were five cardinal points: center, north, south, east and west, unlike the ones you are used to seeing. The main candle is located in the center and symbolizes fire. 🔥
The Skull Action team talks about it in more detail in this article on the Origin of the Day of the Dead.
B. Death's Long Journey
The Aztecs were a tribe that lived from the 13th to the 16th century in and around the region that is now called Mexico. Religion and the many gods were very important in the Aztec culture. Much of the daily life of the Aztecs was supposed to honour and please the gods. 📿
The Aztec and other Nahua peoples living in what is today central Mexico had a cyclical view of the universe.They saw death as an integral and ever-present part of life.In dying, a person would have gone to Chicunamictlán, with the sole purpose of finding Mictecacihuatl (the goddess of death) in theland of the dead. It is only after crossing nine very difficult levels, during a long journey of four years, that a person's soul could finally reach Mictlán, the last resting place.
Dans les rituels Honouring the Dead, traditionally held in August, family members will provide food, water and tools to help the skeletons of the deceased in this difficult adventure. This has inspired the contemporary practice of the Day of the Dead, where people leave food or other offerings on the graves of their loved ones, or place them on makeshift altars called Ofrendas in their homes. 🎁
To make light on the path of the dead souls, towards their home on Earth, people had an interesting ritual. In medieval Spain, they covered the graves with flowers sprinkled with lit candles! Probably a nice sight to see.
C. A Merger of Traditions
The day of the 1st of November in Mexico, which you can also find under the name "Nuestros Angelitos" (from Spanish our little angels). 👼🏻) is the day of the "innocent saints" (children and virgins), and symbolizes the return of the spirits of the bereaved children. The next day, November 2, represents the arrival of the deceased adults, who would be slower to travel the path between the two worlds.
Make no mistake, "El día de los muertos" does not simply represent the evolution of the Aztec cult of the dead. This very special day is the product of a fusion of traditions with Christian culture. ⛪️ by settlers from Spain.
The Hispanic settlers have conquered Latin America in the 16th century ème In the 19th century, and subsequently introduced Catholic elements into the celebrations in order to convert the indigenous peoples to the religion emerging in this part of Latin America, the Christian religion. This was a very delicate task since the local people were very reluctant to accept these Christian beliefs! 🤨
The monks therefore had to rely on their beliefs and their rituals already very much in evidence and grounded in their own beliefs and rituals. They also brought such traditions to the New World, with a darker view of death influenced by the devastation of the bubonique plague.
This is the reason why the Mexican Day of the Dead, which is a public holiday in Mexico, was gradually shifted from the month of August to the first two days of November in order to be connected with All Saints' Day, always of Christian origin 📅. It is a true ritual honouring the dead in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.
You now know a little bit more about the Day of the Dead and its origins, and you understand what the mexican people think about death. Let's move on to the next part. !
2) La Catrina
At the beginning of the 19th century, the printer and designer José Guadalupe Posada imagined Mictecacíhuatl, the Aztec goddess of the underworld, as a female skeleton known as La Calavera Catrina, which is now the most recognizable icon of the Day of the Dead.
This large female skeleton is topped with a fancy hat with feathers. You've probably seen it in different contexts because the unique and striking make-up has become very trendy in recent years. The essence of her story is rooted in Mexican traditions and roots 🇲🇽, but was only reworked in the last century.
It is believed that the Aztecs worshipped a goddess of death who they believed was protecting their missing loved ones, helping them through the next steps. The Mexican tradition of honoring and celebrating the dead is deeply rooted in the culture of its people.
Today, La Catrina is a popular tourist attraction and can be found as a statue in many local shops in Mexico, made of wood, clay or papier-mâché. They are eloquently painted feathers and real feathers added to hats. Many people buy these statues and bring them back as a souvenir of their stay in Mexico. 🇲🇽. Its identity is undeniable, La Catrina is 100% Mexican!
We're thinking of doing an article entirely dedicated to this curious goddess Catrina, what do you think? We'll let you let us know in the comments!
3) Calaveras: Emblem of the Feast of the Dead
A. The festivities of the Day of the Dead
During contemporary Day of the Dead celebrations, the deceased are reunited with their families in the cemetery where they rest. ⚰️ (also known as pantheons) in order to restore cleanliness and to keep it clean. burial.
The atmosphere is jovial and the people commemorate with joy the missing persons. They sing and dance around their tomb, adding the Mexican touch: throwing stones at the tomb. flower petals and light candles.
They usually wear brightly coloured cranial masks. Mexicans erect altars in their homes and treat the deceased as guests of honor during their celebrations. Thus, they place many offerings at the foot of the altars: traditional Mexican favorites 🍲 of the deceased, fruits 🍇 flowers (often roses), candy, tequila, and the famous traditional Calaveras. ☠️.
B. Sweet Skulls for All Saints' Day
There is probably no more emblematic symbol of the Day of the Dead than the skull or the Calaveras. This mexican skull is usually a richly decorated depiction of a skull, often with flowers. 🌺, animal 🦊 and other decorations.
During the All Saints' Day holiday, this image is omnipresent, whether it is offerings, paper handicrafts or even cartoons in the newspapers. In a way, the Calavera has become an embodiment of the festival itself.
Calaveras are sugar skulls made to celebrate the Day of the Dead. 💀. You can often find them in every bakery with a special sweet bread called Dead Man's Bread (literally bread of the dead).
The pan de ánimas rituals of the feast of all souls in Spain are illustrated in the famous Pan de Muerto, which is the traditional dish of today's Day of the Dead festivities. Other foods and drinks associated with the holidays, but eaten all year round, include spicy dark chocolate 🍫and the corn liquor called Atole.
4) Colourful Tradition
As I'm sure you've noticed, Mexican skulls are bright and vividly coloured 🎨. Do you know why these endearing skulls are decorated with small frosty details instead of being simply molded skulls? Is it just to make them look cute instead of creepy? No, not exactly.
Mexicans see death in a much more positive light. optimist than we do, and that is why death is not celebrated in a dark, morbid and austere atmosphere. It is essential for them that it be synonymous with joy and hope 🙏 because that's what connects the living to the dead in their culture.
All that concerns "El día de Los muertos" is bright and colourful ✨, especially the decorations. If Mexicans are going to bring small sugar skulls to the altars, these small skull-shaped treats should be decorated with shiny icing and a shiny sheet to simulate orange hair, red eyes and a big white smile.
Of course, the Calaveras can be decorated with all kinds of colors, but when people paint their faces as if they were sugar skulls themselves, the colours they use take on a special meaning.
If you want to decorate you bathroom with stuning skull curtains, you can check this collection of calavera curtain.
- Red is used to represent our blood
- Orange to represent the sun ou le deuil aztèque
- Yellow to represent the worry Mexican (which represents death itself)
- Purple is painful (although in other cultures it may also be wealth and royalty).
- Pink and white are thehope, purity and celebration
- Black represents the land of dead
- The blank refers to the sky
- Finally, the purple represents the bereavement for Christians
5) Marigold Flower
Calaveras are adorned with the Marigold Flower. These flowers have a real role and meaning in Mexican culture.
Death is commemorated with the Flower of Marigold in Mexico. The Flower of Marigold has the virtue of power guiding the dead. The Mexicans will rewrite the ground with paths decorated with the petals of this sacred flower to lead the deceased to the altar erected in their honor.
Although it's a traditional flower, all other flowers 🌸 can be represented on the Mexican head. However, to make it stand out even more from the other flowers, marigold flowers are usually coloured yellow or orange so that they stand out even more.
6) Mexican tattoos
Although it's very fashionable, many of these Mexican skull and crossbones tattoos will come with a rich history, and meanings that represent much more than you might think. ! 🤨
Tattooing plays an important role in Aztec culture, even children are tattooed. The ancient Aztec tattoo designs were rather rudimentary and were not only designed to decorate the body, but for various reasons.
The Aztec tribal tattoos were done in rituals and always in honor of a specific god. Tattoo designs were used to identify different tribes. Aztec tattoo designs were used to mark the status of a person, to show the rank and achievements of a warrior.
B. Meaning of grounds
There are several tattoo designs that we commonly see with regard to Aztec and Mexican tattoos. Many of the Aztec tattoo designs involve the sun 🌞 somehow or other.
The sun tattoos were in honor of Huitzilopochtili, the Aztec sun god. The sun was very important to the Aztec people, was the guardian of the sky. That's why, today, a tattoo of the Aztec sun symbolizes the belief in an afterlife.
Quetzalcoatl, the serpent god 🐍 feathered from ancient Mexico, has also been adapted to the Mexican tattoo. Quetzalcoatl, the god of time, creativity and fertility, was the most powerful of all the Aztec gods.
Mexican tattoos are unique inks and can have various meanings. So, if you want to commemorate a loved one, who made a big impact in your life, you can pay tribute to him with a mexican skull tattoo. Feel free to put the name of the person being commemorated on the forehead of the skull. The rest of the tattoo should be richly coloured. 🎨
In order to have a greater mark of respect and affection towards the person appearing on the body with this inking, not a word will be present above, below, or on top of it. The latter is more than death! It also represents memory and spirituality that never left.
C. Meaning of Tattoo Size
The Mexican skull tattoo is not that kind of little tattoo that is just a detail on a wrist or an ankle. Its size varies but is still considerable compared to those we are used to seeing. It is clearly visible on the back, on the forearm, on the feet, sometimes even on the calves. 🦶. If someone has more than one Calavera with a tattoo, then it means that this person commemorates the age of the deceased.
If a person has a Mexican skull tattoo of small dimension, it may be honoring the death of a very young person 👶🏼, or even a child. If the inking of the Mexican Calavera is huge, it means that the person wearing it commemorates the death of an adult. 👴🏻
The Mexican skull tattoo is often larger than the rest of the inks. It comes with numerous détails, all equally important. This kind of tattoo will require the use of a lot of colors and if you make it too small, the color will be too complicated to make itself visible. However, each colour also has its own meaning and therefore an importance.
7) Make-up "Mexican Skull"
Mexican skull and crossbones makeup is just as fashionable as the famous tattoos mentioned above, and has been for a good number of years! Halloween Day 🎃 is every year and you never know how to disguise yourself? 🧟♀️
Why don't you opt for makeup? If you have good make-up skills, your creations can really be excellent as part of your Halloween costume. There are thousands of tutorials (just on YouTube !)to pull off her Mexican Halloween makeover today..
Don't you have the time and patience to make a make-up mask as meticulous and elaborate as the Calaveras'? You don't have to cover your entire face to make an impact. 🖌
Leave half of your natural "suit" behind and concentrate on applying beautiful details to one side of your face. Also, if you want to make an effect, the simple gesture of applying rhinestones 💎 around the eyes enhances the whole suit.
Now the Calaveras have no secrets from you! These famous Mexican skulls can also be made into beautiful jewellery💍, why don't you indulge in some mexican skull props?