Living in Southern California, Mama is exposed daily to the cultural traditions of our neighbors to the south living in Mexico. In fact, on a good day with no traffic…it probably takes 45 minutes to hop over the border (figuratively speaking of course!). Considering we just had a death in the family, it seems appropriate to join in the celebration that is celebrated a week from today on November 1st — Dia de los Muertos.
The “Day of the Dead” can seem morbid and scary to those not familiar with the cultural tradition of the holiday as skulls are used to represent ancestors and teach kids about the idea of death. But really, it’s an ancient Aztec tradition that focuses on gathering family and friends to pray and honor their loved ones. Makeshift private alters are made using photos of the deceased and decorating the alter with sugar skulls, flowers, favorite foods and drinks. It’s a great excuse to throw a party to share family stories and preserve memories.
If a party isn’t on the agenda, it’s still a great tradition to honor a loved one by having the kids understand the holiday and make craft. Maybe you had a loved one pass away recently or perhaps a family pet? Mama says no soul is off limits — just have fun remembering your loved ones!
Here’s a few things that will help you celebrate the day — Viva Dia de los Muertos!
Frame it — take your favorite photos of your loved ones and frame them in bright eye-popping ornate frames to start your makeshift alter. Mama loves the ones from Etsy.com, $12.99.
Craft it — now let the kids get in on the fun by decorating sugar skulls. It’s one of the most important traditions (and the one of the most fun) of the holiday. Try this all-in-one Mexican Sugar Skull Kit from Hearthsong.com, $16.98. It comes in party pack sizes too…just in case you want to invite more friends to join in the fun!
Cut it — add a few traditional tissue paper flowers to the alter by accordion folding the tissue paper then twisting a pipe cleaner through the middle and fanning out the paper. Mama loves these Papel Picado banner kits that you can help kids cut and decorate the alter with too. Available at cut-it-out.org, $11.
Eat it — now that you have made your alters and decorated them, it’s time to eat! Tamales are a traditional holiday dish for Mexican celebrations but for Dia de los Muertos, families make the sweet bread known as Pan de Muerto to eat and offer their ancestors. Get the little ones involved in the action by serving it up on a plate that celebrates Dia de los Muertos from Sugarbooger — the line is so cute and has everything from totes to bibs in the fun, colorful skull print. Available at Amazon.com, $9 and up.
Wear it — Mama wishes they made this stuff in adult sizes. How cute is this outfit that celebrates the Day of the Dead in a way no other outfit could! Available at Liliputians-NYC.com, $89.95 for skirt and shirt or $39.95 for shirt only. Infants will look adorable celebrating in this onesie that comes in pink, blue or white, $15, at Amazon.com.
How will you decorate your alter this Dia de los Muertos?