Dia de Los Muertos

The Mexican celebration of Day of the Dead actually lasts two days. November 1 is Todos Santos or All Saints and November 2 is Dia de los Muertos. The first honors dead children and saints, and the second, deceased adults. Every year the dead souls come back to visit with their families on these special Days of the Dead. Cemeteries are cleaned and decorated with flowers. Elaborate altars of offerings to the dead, or ofrendas, are built in the homes to welcome back each family's departed souls. Large feasts of favorite foods are prepared. Special gifts -- items of which the dead person was fond or which might be needed for the next life -- are also placed on the altar. The dead souls are allowed to partake first of the essence of the offerings and then, at the end of the two days, friends of the family are invited to feast on the food and drink on the altar. The flower most often used on altars is the golden yellow marigold. Red cockscombs are also quite popular.



Death is seen as the next part of a journey, an extension of life. The holiday is quite joyous. The loved ones have come back for an annual visit, and everyone celebrates. Such a joyous celebration always is accompanied by an abundance of folk art in Mexico, and Dias de Muertos is no exception. Skeletons in every form imaginable are created, and the imaginative creations are some of the finest and most interesting examples of popular art that the country has to offer. Skeletons are dressed up to mock every vocation and avocation imaginable.

This is the area of Mexican folk art where we get the most carried away in our purchases! We look for every wonderful piece we can get our hands on. From Oaxaca, we have skeletons created by the Aguilar family, clay skeletons dressed as teachers, sunbathers, drunks, street-walkers, and many other everyday folks. There are also special candleholders and woodcarvings. From the Mexico City area, we have some wonderful paper mache pieces. From Puebla come miniature boxes in which are created amusing skeleton scenes with taunting political innuendoes printed on paper strips across the front. And there is much more! Contact us about our ever- changing selection.

The dancing skeletons in the photo are by Guillermina Aguilar.