Day of the Dead ~ Día de los Muertos
The Day of the Dead is a festival celebrated in central and southern Mexico 🇲🇽 every November 1st and 2nd. Although it coincides with the Catholic feast of All Saints, indigenous peoples have combined it with their own ancestral beliefs to honor their deceased relatives. :
- November 1st: The gates of heaven open on October 31 at midnight and the spirits of all the deceased children (Angelitos) are reunited with their families again for 24 hours.
- November 2nd: the spirits of the adults come down to Earth to enjoy the festivities that have been prepared for them.
The Day of the Dead, typical of Mexican culture, is a celebration of life... and what better way to celebrate it than by bringing together those of us who remain here and those who watch over us in the afterlife?
Origin of the Sugar Skulls
The origin of the sugar skulls goes back to prehistory when the skull was a predominant figure in various aspects. One of these representations was a wooden shelf on which the skulls of prisoners or human sacrifices were displayed. These civilizations believed in an afterlife, and skulls were an important part of this belief. donation to the god of the underworld to ensure a safe journey in the country he governed: the transition from the earthly to the spiritual life.
In the contemporary Mexican tradition, beautiful altars (Ofrendas) are made in every home. They are decorated with candles, sheaves of flowers (wild marigolds called Cempasuchil), baskets of fruit, peanuts, tortillas, and Day of the Dead bread called Pan Demuerto. The altar is covered with food, sodas, hot cocoa, and water for tired spirits. Toys and sweets are laid out for the Angelitos, and on November 2, cigarettes and glasses of Mezcal are offered to the adult spirits. These are the small folk art skeletons and the sugar skulls bought on the market's outdoor activities that add the finishing touch.
Sugar skulls: a true Mexican tradition
The Day of the Dead is a very expensive holiday for some indigenous, rural and self-sufficient families. Most spend more than two months of their income to honor their deceased parents. They are convinced that happy spirits will bring protection, good luck, and wisdom to their families. Mexico, rich in sugar production and too poor to buy imported European church decorations, has therefore quickly learned to use the art of sugar making for his religious holidays.
These skulls are molded, decorated by hand, and sold by the thousands at the Sugar Skull Fair. Candy makers work 4 to 6 months to make sure there is enough merchandise for sale. Each sugar skull and crossbones represent a departed soul. Once made, the sugar paste skulls are placed on the Ofrenda of the house to honor the return of deceased relatives. The deceased are honored, keeping in mind that their departure does not mean their total disappearance, as they remain alive in the hearts.
The reason why a party that revolves around death is so colorful instead of dark and gray is that it's about to celebrate the life of those who are gone now. It's not just a day of mourning for loved ones with stories about them told around their headstones and on the altars; the Feast of the Dead is a true day of remembrance of their lives and the impact they have had on those around them.
Sugar skeletons are sometimes eaten, but their main function is to decorate altars and tombs a sweet delight for the visiting spirits! Miniature candy skulls are made for the baby Angelitos and are displayed on the house's Ofrendas on November 1st... then replaced by life-size skulls on November 2nd for the returning adult spirits!
Offering a sugar skull to a living person, Whether it is a friend or a family member, with his or her name on it, is also a regular custom around Death Day. Since death is the only thing that is certain in this life, this gesture means that the person is very important to the one who offers the skull and crossbones and just thinks about keeping a place at his or her side in the afterlife!
Day of the Dead: an international dimension
Although it is an ancestral and joyous holiday in Mexico, it is quite possible to customize and personalize it to integrate into our own religious beliefs and culture. The Day of the Dead, inscribed on the intangible cultural heritage of humanity, is indeed a wonderful way to celebrate the memories of our loved ones who are now gone through art, cooking, music, activities with our children, etc. We can tell family stories, fun moments and lessons learned... not by explaining how the person died, but how they lived 🙂!
El Dia de los Muertos is also beginning to become very popular in the United States. Perhaps it is a worldwide desire to celebrate and honor the dead, or just an expression of a general fascination with mysticism, who knows?
Mexican Skull Molds
Do you wish to pay tribute to the dead in the best possible way? Or did the sugar skulls make your mouth water? We've got just the thing for you: that gorgeous Mexican Skull mold to make real Mexican skulls quickly and easily!