Sunday, September 19, 2010

El Dia de los Muertos...Day of the Dead

The Day of the Dead is a tradition that has been practiced in Latin American for approximately 3,000 years. Originally it was a tradition of the Aztecs that has over the years merged with Catholic beliefs, but still keeping the concepts originally practiced. The Aztecs saw death as being the commencement of rebirth. They saw life as being in a dream and in death you awaken. Spaniards attempted to kill the tradition and bring the Catholic faith to the indigenous people, but the custom lived on. A month long ceremony was originally held, but was cut down to two days, November 1 and 2, do to the Catholic merge of the Spanish inquisition, coinciding with their custom of "all saints day."
The idea of El Dia de los Muertos is a celebration of the dead that still live on in spirit. In honor of those spirits, altars are created at home and at the grave stone. The gravestones and altars are adorned with marigolds, cempazuchil, the favorite food and drink of the person celebrated and toys for children. Other offerings include el pan de los muertos, a traditional bread and los dulces, candies. Common decorations found are candles, skeletons (including katrina, and sugar skulls), the cross, insence (copal), sugar skulls, and paper cut outs (el papel picado.) The candles are meant to guide the souls to the altar. It is said that the food and drink loose all of the taste and nutrients after the holiday is over, the belief is the spirits drain the food of these elements.
This is a beautiful tradition that I had the honor of partaking in last year. At Lorain County Community College, the art department asked me to create an altar that would represent this holiday. This gave me the opportunity to learn and teach others about this cultural holiday. After creating the altar, the community was encouraged to place their own offerings on the altar. Being exposed to another culture's customs is an experience I will always remember.
Here is a brief article about the celebration:
Lorain County Community College Students Celebrate Day of the Dead

In honor of the Day of the Dead, I have selected a group of items from etsy that are relate to this Latin tradition. All the artwork is handmade by artists found on If you see something that stops you in your tracks, take a look at their other items by clicking on the link below the picture.


  1. Oooo... beautiful items! I'm going to check some of these shops out!

  2. beautiful! i am honored to be included!

  3. This is a fabulous collection. I love how this spiritual celebration is being embraced by us native Americans. I only wish we could celebrate for a month! Thanks for including my garland

  4. Wonderful collection! Thanks for including my tile!