“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Friends, a few years ago I posted this describing Dia de Muertos, a remembrance…. and since today is ‘All Saints Day’ or ‘Day of the Dead’, I wanted to re-visit it with you for an explanation of what today is all about.
Knowing all the details.
Sometimes we judge or voice opinions when we really don’t know all the facts.
Let me explain.
When I first moved to New Mexico many years ago, I felt like the Dia de Muertos celebration was a bit spooky.
Since this Mexican holiday fell on the day after Halloween, I thought it was an extension of Halloween.
I observed alters being put up, skeleton masks put on and candles lit and I thought it was….well, I thought it was like some sort of devil worship and I stayed completely away from it.
Then it was explained to me that no, this was a lot like our Memorial Day.
A day when we remember those who have passed on by taking flowers to the cemetery and having family picnics, etc.
Dia de Muertos; Day of the Dead:
It is the culture of those of Mexican and Hispanic heritage and actually starts Oct 31 and ends November 2.
For this culture, Dia de Muertos or Day of the Dead, is a time of prayer and remembrance of friends and family members who have died.
Traditionally, an alter (ofrenda) is set up using an existing table in the home or on a patio and this table is draped with a colorful cloth and a few small candles and flowers.
Pictures are added of the loved one(s) who have passed away.
Another part of the tradition is one in which I believe many people shy away from and that is the placing of calaveras representing the dead on the alter.
These calaveras are skulls made from cane sugar and decorated with candy flowers, icing, beads and feathers.
Hence the term “sugar skulls”.
Below you will see the sugar cookies I made. I frosted them with Royal Icing and decorated them with edible markers.
I am almost embarrassed to show you my sugar skulls as I was having difficulty with my royal icing drying properly.
(Note to self:) Let them dry overnight instead of rushing it.
As you can see, my sugar skulls are not quite what I had in mind, but in keeping it real, I wanted you to see what could be done with a bit more time and effort.
Let’s move on shall we?
Dia de Muertos, memorial holiday also includes festivals and parades.
Favorite foods of the deceased are prepared and eaten, as friends and family members “celebrate” the life of their loved ones.
At the end of the day, the families conclude their festivities by visiting the cemeteries to pray for their deceased loved ones.
My tablescape for Dia de Muertos started with the movie “Coco”, which came out in November of 2017.
This animated Disney film is the story of a 12-year-old little boy named Miguel.
In a dream like sequence, Miguel is accidentally transported to the Land of the Dead, where he seeks the help of his deceased musician great-great-grandfather to help him return to his family as they prepare to celebrate Dia de Muertos.
The memorable song “Remember Me“) won Best Original Song at the Academy Awards and the movie won Best Animated Feature.
You will see various family members in and among the white guitar and flowers that I used as a centerpiece.
The white guitar was instrumental (pun intended) to the character Coco, as it was his grandfathers.
Of course there are small votives as well as tall tapers.
I used burlap place mats and sat orange dinner plates with “sugar skull” salad plates on top.
The silver stick like flatware seemed a perfect choice as they sort of resemble skeletons.
Turquoise napkins and stemmed water glasses complete the place setting.
There were many other interesting features of this tablescape that I did not get to add as I was a bit rushed for time but none-the-less, I wanted to get it in the bag before the days rushed by.
I really like the pictures with the candles lit….it is not eerie at all but nice and cozy once you know the real meaning of Dia de Muertos.
Where has the time gone?
It is time now for Thanksgiving, and I feel the need for speed to catch up.
And by the way, my cookie decorating has only improved slightly from the date of this post. LOL
Have a great day and blessings always!
2 Corinthians 1:3,4,
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
Rita C. says
I love the Mexican holiday of remembrance. Having grown up Catholic, we knew it as All Saints’ Day (synonymous, but without the colorful festive displays). With childlike naivete, we always thought of it as the day we got to stay home (after mass, of course, since it was a holy day of obligation) and eat our Halloween candy while our public school friends had to go to class. 🙂
Sandy Marshall says
Thank you so much for the explanation of this holiday. I never would have known if it weren’t for you.
Love you, lady.
You are welcome dear friend. Did you have many trick or treaters a your house? Times have sure changed, haven’t they. Hugs Always
I really enjoyed this post Kari! I too thought the day was spooky evil until I learned what it was really about. As a catholic, Nov 1, All Saints Day, was always a holy day of obligation, and a day for church. I love your sugar skulls plates and I think your cookies look amazing! I love all the thoughtful elements of your tablescape with a nod to the Disney film, and Love the guitar centerpiece, beautiful!!
Thanks Jenna for stopping by…I’m still working on icing cookies… I even watched a Martha Stewart video on icing snowflake shaped cookies. I finally decided to just pour the icing on and shake sprinkling sugar on to hide the imperfections. BUT they tasted really good. LOL
I remember this post and even saw my comment above.
Thanks once again for your wonderful explanation ! Happy November!
Yes Ma’am…and I thank you again for stopping by…Hugs and Blessings
Jan E. says
Kari, our church celebrates All Saints Day by reading the names of all the members who died in the past year along with prayers. Thank you for your explanation of the Day of the Dead. I never knew the background of it and must share it with our granddaughter. She loves makeup and did her face as a “sugar skull” with flowers on her head. Your tablescape is so fitting for the day.
Thanks Jan…I am sure your grand daughter looked amazing with her make up. Bless her heart for honoring those who have passed with flowers on her head also. Thanks for stopping by my friend. Blessings Always
Everyday Living says
Kari, I had no idea of the meaning or traditions of this celebration. Day of the dead sounded off putting to me and I never even bothered to check on its meaning or significance. I love your table and I think your cookies are perfect. Thanks for your lovely explanation. Happy November, my friend!
I hear ya Pam…I was the same way. My sister in law in New Mexico set me straight when we moved there. thanks for stopping by my friend! Hugs and Blessings
Liz @ Home and Gardening With Liz says
Wow Kari I never heard Day Of The Dead explained so well. I too felt it was an extension of Halloween. Love the table and the white guitar and adornments. I didn’t know about the movie Coco, I’ll have to watch it!
Thanks for visits to my blog, for some reason I can’t reply to you in email.
Thanks Liz…don’t know why you are having issues with email but suffice it to say since hurricane Ian came right over us a few weeks ago…we, and almost every one else, have been having phone and internet issues. I don’t know what sort of interferences are out there,. but thanks for stopping by.
Chloe Crabtree says
I love the tradition of dia de los muertos and the movie Coco made it so easy to explain to my granddaughters. It was such a wonderful experience to be in San Antonio last weekend and see all of the altars and offerings people had left to honor those who had passed. I love your sugar skull plates, they are so pretty. The girls actually dressed in sugar skull dresses and had their faces painted and flowers on their heads in the tradition of sugar skulls for Halloween this year!
thank you Chloe, and yes it is a wonderful tradition. I know you are enjoying your girls as this is a wonderful experience for you too. Hugs
Hahahahahahahaha! Love your cookies. Excellent post
thanks Maureen, I definitely need practice on working with my cookie decorating.
It sure is! Hugs!
I thoroughly enjoyed your explanation of this day! I did not know the exact details! Thank you!
Your table scale was effect and I thought your cookies were perfect!
thank you so much Nancy…I always appreciate your comments…and Happy November to you too and Thanksgiving is going to be here before we know it. WOW!
Rita C. says
I love this tablescape, Kari, and especially your explanation of the holiday, thank you. Growing up Catholic, November 1st was always celebrated as All Saints’ Day – the feast of honoring all saints. We always had the day off from parochial school, as it was a holy day of obligation (read – had to go to mass or it was a sin). But for us kids, it was always a day to mock the public school kids for having to go to school the day after trick-or-treating while we got to stay home and eat candy all day, lol. My great niece goes to Catholic school now, and they like to pretend they’re calling it a teacher conference day so they can say they’re aligned with the public school calendar, but it’s still All Saints’ Day.
thank you Rita …I appreciate your inputs on my Dia de Muertos post as you are correct calling it All Saints Day….yet another name.
I went to a very small secular school but my cousins went to larger schools in another city 13 miles away…we didn’t always have the same days off from school so I know the teasing that can go on when some students are off and some are not. LOL And everyone knows kids need that day off after trick or treating…if not to eat more “loot” or to nurse an upset stomach from too much “loot” !!