The previous post covered an introduction to Dia de los Muertos, as well as a variety of decorating tips for anyone who is interested in the beauty of this holiday. Today’s post is going to cover how to celebrate Dia de los Muertos and honor those you’ve lost.
Celebrating Dia de los Muertos
Creating the altar I mentioned in the previous post is one way to celebrate the dead. Putting the altar together will take time and effort. However, it should be a happy and fun project, as you’re doing it to celebrate and honor your deceased loved one.
The main celebration of Dia de los Muertos takes place in the cemetery. Much like you create an altar at home, you will create a display at the memorial site of your loved one. Place your beloved’s favorite foods and offerings at the grave, along with decorations. Many close family members will sit at the grave all night, telling stories, reminiscing, and socializing. The idea is to have fun and celebrate the dead so that when they join the living for the night, it’s a happy celebration.
To get an idea of what the average family does, watch the short video below. It covers how the families at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in LA celebrate the day.
Dia de los Muertos has become increasingly more popular in the United States in the last few years. I remember learning about it in school and thinking about how cool it was. Now, I love Halloween as it is, but Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is extremely interesting in a whole new way. It consists of honoring the deceased and visiting our late loved ones on the one day they can return to our realm. Dia de los Muertos runs from October 31st until November 2nd. If you’re interested in this beautiful custom, leave some of your Halloween decorations up and add some Dia de los Muertos decor.
This will be a two-post blog mini-series. The first post will cover how to decorate for Day of the Dead and the second post will cover how to celebrate the holiday and honor the dead. Check back this evening for part two of two!
Decorating for Dia de los Muertos
First things first, make sure you fully understand the significance and deep meaning of this holiday. It’s not just “Halloween from another culture”. It’s so much more than that. This is a very symbolic and emotional event, and it means so much to those who celebrate it. Before planning your decorations, watch this short video on what Dia de los Muertos is all about. Be sure to add salt to the altar, as that’s said to keep any bad spirits from crashing the party.
Now that you have a feel for the holiday, you can begin to create decorations based on who you’d like to honor. Begin by creating an altar in your home. At this altar, you’ll place photos of the deceased, their favorite foods, and gifts for them to enjoy. You’ll also want to add a candle to help light their way, and your altar needs a bit of “earth” which will allow them to visit. The altar will be easy to create because it’s basically a memorial to honor those you wish to remember on Dia de los Muertos.
Sugar skulls are a popular candy treat, and almost every altar has a few. Celebrations will often have dancers painted to look like these skulls, and the results are gorgeous. A sugar skull decoration is a staple for Dia de los Muertos themes. Skeleton figures participating in fun activities are also important. This is not a day for grief, but rather a day to celebrate the life of the one you loved. Place skeleton decorations in situations that represent the activities and hobbies they loved.
Finally, you want to set up pillows and blankets for the deceased. The idea is to treat your visitors like any other guests, make them feel at home. Create a place for the deceased to rest before returning home. Sherrie Carter
DIY Halloween decorations are as easy as they are fun to make. The best part about making your own décor is that you most likely already have most of the supplies in your house. Halloween decorations usually look creepy, ancient, and in some cases dirty and broken. This means they’re simple and almost error-proof. If you make a mistake, you can make it look like you meant to do whatever it is that you did. I love making things for every holiday, and I’ve probably tried every Halloween DIY project at least once. I wanted to give you guys some good projects you can do without having to hit up the store (hopefully). Check out my list below and if you make something, be sure to post a photo in the comments below!
Ghouls, Ghosts, & Scarecrow Decorations
Use old clothes and stuff them with hay, cotton, old pillows, or other old clothing to make a figure. Paint a face on an old pillowcase, and add a hat for additional character.
Halloween Centerpiece Bottles
Collect used wine and liquor bottles. If you don’t buy spirits, ask friends for their spare bottles. Use chalkboard paint to create a dull, black base on the bottles and write Halloween phrases in chalk!
DIY Halloween Wreath
Use toilet paper to create a mummy-wrap wreath. If you have fake spiders and spider webs, they’ll add a nice touch to the wreath.
Ghost & Bat Balloons
Use white hand towels or pillowcases to cover a balloon and hang from the ceiling. For bats, use black towels or pillowcases, and add wings with construction paper.
This is great for anyone who has many mason jars or is into canning. Paint the lids orange and place them on their sides. Connect at the middle until they come full circle. Use glue or a cable tie to hold the ring together and it will look like an adorable pumpkin. Use cardboard or a painted dowel for the stem.