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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dia de los Muertos: Celebrating Ancestry

I love Dia de los Muertos!  It's a Mexican holiday that celebrates our loved ones that have passed on, leaving what ultimately is a skeleton.  Skeletons aren't feared or considered to be anything other than their loved ones' remains.

Here's an explanation by Judy King that touches my heart:
 “The Mexican flatters death and woos death, he sings to her, dances with her, he laughs at her. Finally he challenges her and in the challenging, death loses her power to intimidate him. Once he knows death intimately, death is no longer wrapped in a cloak of mystery or causes him to fear the darkness

Once the fear of death has been defeated, the clutch she has on the hearts and minds of the living is lessened once and for all. Death’s morbid side is buried under music and remembrances, while skeletons laugh and dance and sing as Mexico celebrates life in its embrace of death.”

The photo above is a ceramic box I made years ago.  It has a skeleton couple on top (a very common scene in Dia de los Muertos art)
In this closeup of the shrine, you can see that I added tiny photos of my parents in their youth.  All the decorations on the cake are ceramic.  The tryptic frame/stand is painted foam core board. I added lots of glitter, skulls, angels and the Virgin of Guadalupe at the top.

For the typical 3 day celebration, the families of the town would clean up the graves sites of their loved ones and decorate them with marigolds and candles on the evening of October 31st, and then the celebration begins. 

The Mexican s believe it would be an insult to their ancestors to be sad during the celebration.  I read somewhere that the road the spirits follow back to home would be made slippery with tears.  Instead, they laugh and sharing memories, feast together, making sure to bring the favorite foods of their ancestors (the delicious smells help them find their way home).

Here are some history links for more info:

I highly recommend visiting the Crafty Chica.  Kathy's whole family does wonderful Dia de los Muertos art!

Also, this post is part of Mary England's Celebration Blog Party


  1. What a great shrine Candace. Missed you this year during the S&S 31 Days of Halloween. Love your art!

    Thanks for sharing the Dia de los Muertos information!

  2. This is such a great topic for this project! I really love the idea that tears would make their path slippery, it's such a beautiful metaphor. Celebrating life, even after death, is incredibly important. I adore the cake you made and I really appreciate you participating.

  3. What a great explanation! Speaking of Dias de los Muertos, today I tried pan de muerto for the first time :).

    I'm coming from Mary's link-up, btw.

    Have a wonderful weekend! ;D


  4. I'd love to know how the pan de muerto comes out! Thanks, Miki!