Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Dia De Los Muertos is coming!
Dia De Los Muertos, aka, Day Of The Dead, is coming soon (November 2) and it's time to plan the ofrenda. This colorful Latin American holiday is something I look forward to every year and so does my son. It's a time to celebrate life and those we love who have passed on. We build an altar, ie, ofrenda, to honor those who have passed. On the ofrenda (our dining table), we place things the deceased loved. For instance, if your grandmother loved chocolate chip cookies, you would have a plate of those. The souls are said to enjoy the vapors of the foods from the other side. We play Latin music and the house is festive and alive with excitement.
We also have a feast of Mexican foods such as black beans, Mexican rice, tortilla chips, salsa, a big molcajete with guacamole, Mexican chocolate, Mexican wedding cookies and if I'm feeling really ambitious, a veganized version of bread of the dead, pan de muerto. We love to decorate our altar with skeletons, skulls, marigolds (traditionally used as a marker for souls to find their way home), Mexican tin ornaments, papel picado (papercut banners depicting scenes with skeletons), pictures of our loved ones and tons of candles. Ofrendas traditionally are decorated with sugar skulls, but I have not ventured into the making of sugar skulls yet. I will though! And maybe this year.
There is a fabulous source for Dia De Los Muertos supplies online, MEXICANSUGARSKULL.COM. She has everything you could want for your Day of the Dead celebration and her site is beautiful and full of information and inspiration. I think it's the best place on the web to find these supplies. The owner, Angela Villalba, is passionate about this holiday and her enthusiasm will give you confidence and get you even more excited to celebrate. She has me wanting to do a sugar skull party for five year olds. I love the idea of storytelling during the painting of the skulls. It's a time for keeping those memories alive, you tell your child stories about their relatives who have passed and keep them as part of your child's life in the present. It's beautiful.
She has some oilcloth table clothes with the papel picado motif that is perfect for adorning the table during the sugar skull painting and she also has cloth table clothes decorated with skulls and other appropriate DOD images.
You can buy pre-made sugar skulls to decorate or the molds and supplies to make your own. Marigolds are unavailable in some regions, so she has silk ones that you can get for your altar and reuse every year--they look real and add color and tradition to your ofrenda. She has several kinds of papel picado, skeleton figurines...everything. I highly recommend checking out her site, and if you need help, you can call her and she is extremely friendly and helpful and will help you figure out exactly what you need for your party.
I think Dia De Los Muertos is a magnificent holiday. It would be great to experience in the classroom for kids, or great for families or an adult only party. There is something immensely comforting about it to me, it makes me feel more connected to those I love that have passed on and it makes me feel more comfortable about my own mortality.
Image Credits: mexicansugarskull.com