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History Behind Dia De Los Muertos

Los Novios by Patrick Murillo.
Los Novios by Patrick Murillo.
This week I’m kicking off my Dia de los Muertos project inspiration series!
Dia de los Muertos is a 3,000 year-old holiday from Mexico that celebrates the lives of those who have passed on. Sometimes it is at the gravesite, other times it is at home in front of an altar or ofrenda that we build for them.

The first night of the two-day event begins at midnight, and it’s the spirits of the babies and children who come to visit their former homes or gravesites. By this time tomorrow, they will have returned to the afterworld, and the adults will arrive.

Dia de los Muertos isn’t just about cute skeletons, gallery-worthy altars or fun crafts. It’s about respecting our ancestors and loved ones who have crossed over. It’s welcoming their spirits back with open hearts and arms. That’s why we create ofrendas at home or at gravesites with all the things that will make their senses tingle. Things that will make them feel alive on Earth again. If your Aunt Mary used to love bottled Coca Cola, imagine how big she will smile when she gets to taste it again! Make Dia de los Muertos be a personal experience for you, especially if you have recently lost someone you care deeply for.

Don’t cry for them today or tomorrow. Do not let yourself feel regret or sorrow. They are here, tell them what you need to tell them, because they are listening. They hear you. Close your eyes and feel them beside you, enjoying the treats you set out for them. They are happy because you care enough to remember the joyful times, the smiles, the love and warmth they brought to your life, and you to theirs. That’s what they want you to think of! This is a time to party with them again!

Remember Dia de los Muertos is about celebrating life – not mourning death. We celebrate the cycle of life. Not only the deceased, but our own lives – right now. Let these days remind you to count your blessings. To try new things. Take chances. Meet new people. Let yourself experience goosebumps galore! That is truly living. Give your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren something to remember you for!

Whew. That was intense, I get like that around this time of the year. But as with so many things these days, it’s easy to forget the true meaning. There are calaca clothes, shoes, jogging suits, barrettes, candy, posters, you name it! That’s all cool, because it hopefully will motivate people to learn more about what Dia de los Muertos is all about. But just in case, I wanted to send out my little reminder 🙂

Day of the Dead Timeline

Dia de los Muertos takes place over three days. Each day of the celebration has specific activities associated with it.

October 31

Infants and children who have died are angelitos, or “little angels.” They follow the path of marigolds home, where their families have altars with pan de muertos, sweet tamales and sugar calaveras.

November 1

The angelitos must be gone. The offerings at the altars are appointed for the “faithful dead” or adult souls with pan de muertos, tamales, mole, cigarettes and tequila.

November 2

 Mummers run around town wearing masks to chase the stubborn souls back to the land of the dead.

Within the next two weeks, I’ll share ideas for making your own ofrenda to making crafts to display. You will rarely see a scary skeleton. Dia de los Muertos skeletons are most often jovial and happy. Their spirit is still alive, even though their bodies are not here.
Not all ofrendas have to have skeletons, they can be any way you like. Building a memory shrine to a loved one is whatever you want it to be. Set out their favorite foods, drinks, hobbies, photos and more.
You’ll see a lot of sugar skulls – my favorite! The colorful icing represents the sweetness of life.



DIY Corpse Bride Costume

DIY Sugar Skull Art Apron


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