Creating the ideal Day of the Dead decorations each year is one way to honor this beautiful Mexican tradition. Since pre-Hispanic times, the celebration of life in Mexico has remained embedded in the culture, and even today, this tradition has continued to strive. Therefore, year after year, Mexicans create spectacular altars dedicated to celebrating the life of those who have passed, believing the souls of their loved ones return home.
To begin, we will explain the Day of the Dead decorations and their meaning. But before, we must acknowledge that Mexico is a vast territory with an immense culture. Therefore, depending on the area of Mexico, there is an infinity of different decorations. This blog will show you the elements that unite all of the unique expressions of this celebration of life.
The altar of the dead is the main base of the Day of the Dead decoration. It consists of placing a series of elements on a multi-level table that range from food and photographs of the deceased to religious representations, generally of the Catholic tradition.
Gastronomy in the Decoration of the Day of the Dead
Mexico is famous for its vast gastronomy and for the importance that it has in daily life. Of course, it should be one of the fundamental pillars of the celebration of the Day of the Dead since food is prepared for the living and those remembered at the altar. During these dates, an endless number of typical dishes are prepared, including:
- Mole: its preparation varies. Generally, it is a mixture of dehydrated chilies, spices, seeds, and other ingredients. This sauce is an icon of Mexican food.
- Tamales: present in almost any Mexican holiday. They are steamed from corn dough and lard and are filled with sauces and different varieties of meat.
- Pozole: it could be said that this is the staple stew of this gastronomy. Its main ingredient is a variety of corn called “cacahuazintle.” It can be prepared with green or red chilies, depending on the taste.
In addition to the dishes mentioned above, sweet elements are also added, typically prepared only for this celebration:
- Traditional Pan de Muerto: This bread is legendary because its origin is unknown. However, it is believed that it is a way of representing the deceased and their passage through to the underworld.
- Sugar Skulls: Another way to represent those who have already passed and honor their memory, since one is placed for each life that is being celebrated.
- Dulce de Calabaza: In English, “Sweet Pumpkin,” this dish gets its name from the season Day of the Dead falls. It is very common to see sweets prepared from pumpkin pieces during this special time.
What Other Elements Should You Include in the Decorations?
Another essential element in the decoration of the Day of the Dead is the Papel Picado. It is one of the main elements that transform this solemn date into a festivity. You can encounter it in all colors and sizes with a huge variety of figures that generally show skulls celebrating life. This decoration dates back to the middle of the 19th century in the city of Puebla. Still, it spread throughout the nation thanks to how easy it is to create and the outstanding colors it provides for the celebration.
Almost all cultures around the world include flowers in their death rituals. However, since pre-Hispanic times, the Mexican tradition considers a very particular flower of life, the Cempasuchil flower, and its representation of the sun in the earthly world. In addition to having an infinity of medicinal and therapeutic properties, it has immense beauty and color that have contributed to giving the Day of the Dead Celebration its distinctive atmosphere, ironically both sad and festive at the same time.
One of the things that characterize Mexicans and this unique celebration is that Day of the Dead is a time not to mourn the death of their loved ones but instead celebrate the life they lived. This is done in many forms, one which converts a dark moment in many lives into one that is of celebration and joy. Proof of this is the work of many artists who have left countless references to death as a character in everyday life in paintings, sketches, and illustrations.
As an example, the engravings of José Guadalupe Posada have a special place. He was the creator of the Catrina skull, an image that has become world-famous and, for many, the quintessential icon of these festivities.
When to Start Preparing for Day of the Dead?
As we mentioned above, Day of the Dead is one of the most important celebrations for Mexicans. Preparations begin the last week of October, with the days of celebration beginning on October 28th.
Suppose all this has moved you to experience the celebration as a Mexican would. In that case, we have the perfect solution for you, with all the amenities and services you can expect in one of the most beautiful places in the Riviera Maya.
Sandos Caracol Eco Resort is an incredible all-inclusive resort dedicated to the conservation of the environment and culture in Mexico. Like every year, it is already preparing for its spectacular Day of the Dead celebration. It includes countless activities involving local artists, Mayan artisans, and guests from all over the world.
You cannot miss the spectacular parade of catrinas, accompanied by various mythical characters. You can also participate by getting your face painted like a traditional Catrina.
If you want to try Mexican food, November 1st and 2nd are the perfect time to do so. During your vacation, you will find a wide variety of snacks and typical dishes from all regions of Mexico that you wouldn’t be able to experience during different times of the year.
In addition to all of the food, make sure not to miss out on the amazing music performed live in the theater and throughout the resort at Sandos Caracol Eco Resort. While you will be able to hear the beautiful tones played throughout the Day, ensure that you visit the theater to experience a variety of Mexican music and performances.
Do you want to experience this unique tradition? What are you waiting for? Remember, this celebration is celebrated at Sandos Caracol only on November 1st and 2nd.