Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dia De Los Muertos!

Well today is All Saints Day and it's the beginning of celebrations in Mexico for Dia De Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead- for all you gringos out there. To celebrate, I'm having a bit of chocolate an cinnamon in my coffee this morning...I would've added Kahlua, but I have stuff to get done today.....

Don't know what Day of the Dead is? Well, it's not the George Romero movie, but it is just as cool.

  • Day of the Dead is celebrated on All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2)...I guess it should be called Days of the Dead, but I'll put the semantics issue aside.
  • Day of the Dead is celebrated mainly in Mexico and a few other Latin American countries. It emphasizes remembering and honoring the spirits of deceased loved ones. 
  • Day of the Dead has origins with the Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations. It was common practice to celebrate the lives of dead ancestors and some cultures would keep skulls and use them in ceremonies to symbolize death and rebirth. The original Day of the Dead celebrations took place in August. But, along came the Spanish conquistadors and they flipped out when they saw this "gruesome" display. So, they suggested (read: forced) the native populations to celebrate Day of the Dead on the the Catholic church's All Saints Day and All Souls Day.
  • Children's souls are believed to return on Nov. 1, and adult souls are believed to return on Nov. 2. Families build shrines (or altars called offrendas) and decorate graves with sugar skulls, marigolds, toys for the children, and tequila for the adults.
  • Sugar skulls actually came from Italian missionaries in Mexico. The Italians brought their confectionary skills to the native population and boom- sugar skulls!
  • My dining room is decorated in Day of the Dead, complete with an offrenda/bookshelf. Also, we decorate our Christmas tree in Day of the Dead, complete with sugar skulls and marigolds. I call it El Arbol de los Muertos....because I took high school Spanish.
  • Undoubtedly, the most famous Day of the Dead artist has got to be Jose Posada. He originally started out as a political cartoonist, but moved into doing commercial work and children's illustrations. Images like La Calavera Catrina or The Calavera of the Female Dandy were used to satirized the life of the upper class in Mexico, but are now used in many Day of the Dead art projects as the images are now in the public domain.
Speaking of one such art project, here's a Day of the Dead necklace using the artwork of Jose Posada: http://www.etsy.com/listing/76600026/day-of-the-dead-posada-resin-necklace
Use coupon code BLOG15 for 15% off!

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