Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday that is celebrated on November 1rst & 2nd. The belief is that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31rst and the spirits of all deceased children are allowed to reunite with their families. The following day on November 2nd, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that have been prepared for them. The cemeteries are decorated, a favorite meal and a bottle of tequila might be placed at the grave to ready for the return of the spirit. I think that it is a touching and moving tribute to your dearly departed loved ones.
Sugar skulls are a well known symbol for the celebration of the Day of the Dead as they are created to adorn the festivities for the departed souls. Sugar art was brought to the New World by Italian missionaries in the 17th century. Mexico, abundant in sugar cane, learned quickly how to make the sugar skulls. The skulls would represent a departed soul as they were placed on gravestones or home made altars to honor a particular spirit.
Another festive description of Dia de los Muertos and Dia de los Muertos para Ninòs…
On October 31, All Hallows Eve, the children make a children’s altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit. November 1 is All Saints Day, and the adult spirits will come to visit. November 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives. The three-day fiesta is filled with marigolds, the flowers of the dead; muertos (the bread of the dead); sugar skulls; cardboard skeletons; tissue paper decorations; fruit and nuts; incense, and other traditional foods and decorations.
I could ramble on about all the nuances of Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead Celebrations, as I find it totally fascinating…living in San Diego, the goings on are all about us.
The most important icons of the Day of the Dead celebrations are the calacas, which is a skeleton having fun in their afterlife, pan de muerto (bread of the dead) which is baked to offer as an offrenda (offering) at the altar, calaveras (sugar skull) and altars decorated with strings of flor de cempazuchitl (marigolds.)
Over the years the Day of the Dead canvases have not been quite as elusive to find as their popularity grows…
If Day of the Dead canvases are on your stitching wish list, there are wonderful ones by Sundance and also many amazing pieces of artwork by Manuel Salas that are being painted onto canvas by Tapestry Fair. Oooh if I only had the time to stitch them all!