The Day of the Dead, as celebrated in Mexico and some parts of the US and Central America, comes from the Aztec tradition. The Aztecs believed that life as we know it is merely a dream, and one does not truly awaken until death. They celebrated a month in late summer when they believed those who had moved on could return to visit their family members. When the Spaniards arrived on the scene they attempted to quash the practice, but failed. Instead, they predictable tied the celebration to a Catholic holiday, All Saints Day on November 1st.
The holiday is celebrated (key work celebrated, not mourned or commemorated) by remembering and honoring the beloved deceased by decorating grave sites, creating opulent altars in their honor, and like any self-respecting holiday, by preparing and devouring special foods.
Altars can take many forms, indoors or out, ornate or simple, although most have photos, mementos, religious idolatry, and ofertas such as clothing, sweets, food, alcohol or cigarettes and marigolds, whose scent is believed to attract the souls and draw them back.
Decorated sugar skulls are devoured to symbolize an acceptance of death as are pan de muerto – a slightly sweet bread baked into the shapes of bones.
The main symbol of the celebration is the skull and the skeleton, which is baked, bought, made, and embodied as men and women don costumes and pain their faces and dance and sing into the night. They are joyful, not frightening, and the holiday is one that embraces life and death through music, food, and objects intended to enhance the connection to the spirit world.
This year I intent to celebrate Die de los Muertos alongside my Halloween revelers. The following art are bits pf costume inspirations I wanted to share if anyone else wants to get on board :) Let’s celebrate life and death by eating sugared skulls, by creating altars for our beloved deceased and getting gussied up in one killer costume. No pun intended.