Day of the Dead - Dia de los Muertos

skeleton candlestick

The Celebration

While the sugar skull is one symbol of the Day of the Dead celebrations it is only one small component of the Mexican celebration called Dia de los Muertos.

Families make "ofrendas" in their homes which are alters with pictures of their departed loved ones, favorite foods and beverages, flowers and anything that is a remembrance of the loved one. The major portion of the celebration takes place at the cemetery where all the offerings are taken and placed at the grave-site along with huge piles of marigolds, the traditional flowers. Families gather, tell stories about their loved ones and share food. (See Day of the Dead Recipes)

Sugar Skulls

day of the dead skull coffins The skull is the symbol of death and is called the "calavera". The skull is not used in a morbid way but in fact a whimsical expression of the circle of life. Skulls in various forms plan an important part in the Day of the Dead celebration. Sugar skulls confections are formed from sugar and brightly decorated. Day of the Dead banners (papel picado) are used to decorate alters. Other types of wood, clay and paper mache objects depict the skulls of loved ones and even pets.

Traditional Foods

Probably the most important celebration food is the pan del dia del los muertos (Day of the Dead Bread) a special bread in the shape of a skull. Families typically serve foods that were the favorites of the departed. Special dishes such as mole or tamales are sometimes made for the special event.

In Mexico And The U.S. Today

The strongest traditional celebrations take place in the south of Mexico in Oaxaca where the Indian population is the greatest. There are still midnight treks to the graveyard and truckloads of marigolds line the cemeteries. The Day of the Dead celebrations are becoming popular in the U.S. as well particularly in California, Texas and the Southwest.

Day Of The Dead Sugar Skull Kit

day of the dead kit

Everything you need to make Day of the Dead sugar skulls (except the sugar) all presented in a Mexican "bolsa" (bag). Our bolsa is bright, fun, and directly from Oaxaca, Mexico

day of the dead starter kit

Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.