It is important to understand that the Day of the Dead in Mexico or Dia de los Muertos is not the same as Halloween. In Mexico, people celebrate the Day of the Dead to remember members of the family that passed away and to show support of their spiritual journey.
The Day of the Dead is a 2-day holiday beginning with honoring children that have passed, and the second day is dedicated to adult members of the family that have been lost. This special holiday also includes pets and animals. The souls think it is disrespectful to be sad about their passing, so decorations are meant to festive rather than somber.
Here are a few tips to prepare your home to celebrate the Day of the Dead with your family and friends
1. Color, Color, Color
Don’t think of this as a dark, somber event. There is color everywhere. Regardless of the specific decoration, it has to be colorful. So, we recommend decorating your home with colors such as magenta, orange, green, and purple. Although Halloween is meant to be dark and scary, the Day of the Dead is different. Instead, this holiday is bright and happy.
2. Skulls and more skulls!
Skulls are bright and have intricate patterns. They don’t intend to be somber. You can include skulls as part of the altar or as a separate decoration. You will see many kids wearing skull makeup and costumes.
In Mexico, skulls are a very distinctive decoration. In the Day of the Dead, you will surely find skulls in every home. Sometimes, people get creative, and they paint them by themselves. If you would like to do this, you can go to a local market and buy skulls made of ceramic clay and decorate them as you wish!
Catrinas are skulls that wear elegant clothing. Originally, catrinas were depicted to represent the general situation of the country and that of the privileged classes.
If you have the time, you can look for DIY tutorials to handmake a catrina using maché paper. Also, you can dress up like a catrina. There are plenty of online videos with tutorials to achieve fantastic makeup.
4. Papel Picado (Cut paper)
Your decorations should include bright paper streamers called papel picado. They have intricate patterns cut to represent the traditions of the holiday. You can buy papel picado at a stationery store. However, if you consider yourself a handicraft master, you can do it by yourself.
5. The Altar
The most important decoration is the altar. This structure is built in honor of those members of the family that have moved on in their spiritual journey and to encourage them to visit those souls left behind.
An altar has multiple layers. You can include photos and personal items of the individuals you’re dedicating this altar to. An altar can consist of candles, flowers, incense, and skulls. It often includes water and food as gifts to the souls you are asking to visit.
Remember that the Day of the Dead is a holiday of celebration! Decorate your house, gather your friends and family, and honor those that are missed.
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