On November 1st and 2nd, Mexicans celebrate the lives of their ancestors and deceased loved ones--each of whom is remembered with a gaily decorated sugar skull. The holiday is not a mournful gathering but a lively and colorful celebration. I am drawn to the positive energy and accepting view of death.
Years ago I started bringing back Dia De Los Muertos decorations as presents for my daughters when returning from business trips to Mexico. I wanted to share this festive and soulful holiday with my daughters and teach them about other cultures.
|Our Dia De Los Muertos Decorations|
On one visit I picked up a few small calacas (skeleton figurines). They really liked the cute and decorated skeletons, and each time I have returned to Mexico I have brought home a few more. Over time our collection of calacas has grown to 25, and each year we mingle them with our other Halloween decor.
|Our Calacas Collection|
Tonight, my youngest daughter Francesca has invited 30 of her high school friends over for a Dia De Los Muertos party. We will serve a a menu that is Italian and Mexican. I will make pasta with Tomato and vodka sauce with spicy peperoncino. It is a baked pasta that tastes like a bloody mary, We will have fresh crudities platte, tortilla chips, guacamole, mixed green salad and a platter of Italian charcuterie.
I made toasted pumpkin seeds from the 3 pumpkins I carved last night. We will have huge bowls of candy and chocolate chip bars. We will be showing 3 movies on various TVs and computers-- Rosemary's Baby,The Shinning, and Practical Magic.The kids will play games like Twister, Charades and 20 Questions.
It is not the typical day of the dead celebration where the Mexicans visit the graves of their loved ones and celebrate their lives, but rather a high-bred of American Halloween with decor and ambiance influenced by the joyful celebration of life done by the Mexicans for Dia De Los Muertos.
Here are some tips for throwing your own Dia De Los Muertos party and incorporating the holiday's traditions into your family's own.
|Sugar Skull Cookie|
- Send out tombstone invitations. You can find these online at sites like Paperless Post and Evite.
- Decorate with Marigolds. They are one of the most important symbols of Dia De Los Muertos! They are traditionally scattered around the floor, streets, and even graveyards. It is believed that the bright colors and strong bright colors and strong scent of the petals scattered in a path to the altar, lead the invited spirits to the party.
- Dress up in traditional calacas with festive masks. The cheerful colors represent a joyful afterlife. You can find Day of the Dead Masks at Party City and Oriental Trading as well as Costumes and Make-up Kits. You can buy Sugar Skull kits at Hearth Song.
- A Mexican-themed soirée wouldn’t be authentic without the guacamole! Prepare this classic party dip and put it out with chips and freshly cut veggies for guests to munch on throughout the night.
- Share enchiladas and tamales with your guests, along with a salad tossed with edible marigold petals.
- Decorate in vibrant colors -- use brightly colored plates, napkins and flatware.
- Use traditional Mexican blankets or tapestries as table coverings.
- Have a pitcher of traditional margaritas on hand as well as a selection of Mexican beers.
- Keep the lights low and fill the house with candles. Play lively Mexican music, after all it is a celebration!
I hope you'll host your own Dia De Los Muertos party. I will be there in spirit with your ancestors!