One of my favorite Mexican traditions is the celebration of Dia de Los Muertos–Day of the Dead. Every November 1 and 2, Catholic and indigenous traditions blend to honor the dead. Spirits of the dearly departed are believed to return to their homes and those of friends and family. They are lovingly welcomed with beautiful homemade altars filled with traditional flowers, fruit, sweet bread (pan de muerto), candy and the deceased’s favorite foods–along with whimsical skulls (often made from sugar) and skeletons. A magical blend of the macabre and beautiful that ultimately helps to demystify death and loss. I’ve scoured the web for creative and easy-to-follow/purchase inspirations. Here are my picks:
I found a great online retailer who specializes in all things Dia de los Muertos and carries everything from sugar skulls to papel picado to folk inspired skeletons. Check out: http://www.mexicansugarskull.com/index.html
Religious candles can be picked up at your local Latin American market or bodega and add a beautiful touch to your altar or tablescape.
The marigold is the traditional Dia de los Muertos flower. Known as the flower of the dead, their scent is believed to attract the souls and draw them back. Paper flowers are a great alternative.
Altars and tablescapes can range from the elaborate to simple. I’ve chosen two minimalist designs below as inspiration:
The traditional sweet bread pan de muerto is a main staple of the Dia de los Muertos celebration. If you feel like breaking out the yeast and flour, I’ve included a great recipe link above. An easier alternative, buy ‘em from the baking professionals! Because I live in New York while my heart is in LA…here are some yummy bicoastal leads:
Don Paco Lopez
4703 4th Avenue, Brooklyn NY 12200 Tel: 718-492-7443
2129 3rd Avenue, New York NY 10035 Tel: 212-876-0700
10943 Venice Boulevard, Los Angeles CA 90034 Tel: 310-839-3478
6817 Woodman Ave Van Nuys, CA 91405 Tel: (818) 782-6873
Why not add theatrical flair to your festivities with an amazing makeup transformation. Spellbound skeletons…
Bonus…as Dia de los Muertos falls just after Halloween, you can often find great last minute deals on decorations and supplies.