and celebrations for the dead have been going on for
thousands of years under many names and many religions.
Today's Halloween celebration in the U.S. is a throw back to
the old Celtic holiday of Samhain (sow-wain) that was
brought over with the Irish immigrants many years ago.
There is a celebration that our
neighbors to the South have been holding for just
as long. It's a celebration to honor their family members
that have passed and it's called "Día de Muertos" or "Day of
the Dead". Mexico celebrates a yearly tradition called Day
of the Dead during the last days of October through November
Basically, it was started when the Roman Catholic Church
imposed a ritual to commemorate All Souls’ Day, which is
observed in many countries today. This custom was
established by pre-colonial Mexican civilizations mixing
indigenous beliefs with Catholic beliefs brought to them by
the Spanish. While the Roman Catholic ceremonies were more
subdued and mournful, the Day of the Dead in Mexico is a
happy and very colorful celebration where death is thought
of as a happy celebration to honor loved ones. In early
times, the indigenous people believed that souls did not
die, that they continued living in Mictlan, a special place
to rest. They rested there until the day they could return
to their homes to visit their loved ones. This holiday was
celebrated between July and August until the arrival of the
Spaniards who changed the festival dates to November 2nd to
coincide with All Souls’ Day of the Catholic Church.
present days, two celebrations honoring the memory of loved
ones. One takes place on November 1st, honoring the souls of
children, using special designs on the altars and white
flowers and candles. On November 2nd the souls of the adults
are remembered with a variety of rituals, according to the
different states of the Mexican republic. These are very
colorful celebrations with lots of flowers, brilliantly
colored alters and brightly decorated Sugar Skulls, like the
ones to the left.
have to be Hispanic to have a Dia de Muertos celebration for
Halloween. Base the party on bright colors, skeletons of all
kinds dressed in colorful outfits, make sugar skulls and
decorate them. You'll find a recipe
here. These are
made for decorative purposes and not intended to be eaten,
so make sure that you pack them away well to use year after
year because they do deteriorate easily.
You can make a lot of the
decorations yourself or find them on line for purchase.
There are a number of online stores that sell al types of
decorations from skull piñatas to everything you need to
make sugar skulls or buy them pre-made. Also check out our
article on making
papier-mâché skulls and skeletons. Have everyone wear a
skeleton costume, like the
Totally Skelebones costume or similar skeleton costume.
Have lots of bright bouquets of flowers all around. The
brighter the colors, the better!
example of some pre-made skeletons that are available for
purchase online. We found a company that makes nothing but
sugar skulls, molds, paints and the ingredients for them all
in one shop!
If a skeleton costume is not to
your liking, dress in colorful Mexican garb and paint your
face to look like a skull, like the dancer above. Make an
alter and place pictures of your deceased loved ones on it
along with gifts for them such as sweet treats and things
that they might like in the afterworld. The main goal is to
not only make this a Halloween party but also to have it
truly be a Day of the Dead party, give it some meaning and
remember those we loved that are now gone and show them how
much we miss them by giving them a great celebration!