Day of the Dead

Many of us have seen the beautiful and colorful graphics that where shown in Disney’s Coco that reflect the Day of the Dead Holiday (known as Dia de Los Muertos in Spanish), but did you know this is a two day holiday that honors life.

DIYed Skull

Curious as to what it all means?

It was originally an Aztec Holiday that Mexicans have continued to celebrate. It’s important to note that other Latin American countries have their own variation of this holiday and many Latinx-Americans also celebrate it in the United States.

The Day of the Dead is a two day celebration (November 1st and 2nd) which honors lost loved ones. It is based on the belief that spirits return to the land of the living for a brief reunion on these days through an Altar (see below).

On November 1st all children who have passed away are remembered and celebrated and on the 2nd all other adults.

Because of the Spanish colonization of Mexico, the original holiday was moved from summer to November 1st and 2nd to align with the Catholic calendar (All Saints Day and All Souls Day).

This holiday is a celebration of passed loved ones and as such is not related to Halloween and has no bloody or scary elements.

Families gather at altars to eat, tell stories and remember their passed loved ones.

They create makeshift altars, or ofrendas, at their homes or at the gravesites of their deceased loved ones.

You may have noticed it is readily associated with decorative skulls, which are called Calavera Catrina (La Catrina, El Catrin, or Elegant Skull) that were made famous in the 1900s by artists Jose Guadalupe Posada and Diego Rivera.

Traditional Altar (Ofrendas)

An altar typically includes photographs of deceased loved ones and sentimental items, such as toys for children who have passed away.

It may also include decorated skulls and many people also wear make up similar to that of the decorated skulls on these days.

In general some of the essentials for an Altar are:

Fire: Candles to guide the spirits.

Water: To quench their thirst while traveling to the Land of the Living.

Earth: Traditional foods to help nourish the dead such as Pan De Muertos (Bread for the Dead).

Wind: Paper banners allow souls to pass through.

Marigold flowers: Color and scent lure spirits.

Respectful Decoration & Celebration

Day of the Dead decorations or La Catrina or El Catrin face makeup can undeniably be very beautiful! Be aware that if you’re not of Mexican descent, Latino or Hispanic, people may consider your use of these as cultural appropriation.

If you want to take part in the celebration, make sure you’re doing so respectfully and tastefully. Remember that the Day of the Dead has nothing to do with Halloween and is not a costume. It is a Mexican holiday that honors life rather than mourns death! You can educate yourself more on the historical significance of this date or La Catrina, click here.

Now that you know a little more about this holiday, you can partake on celebrating your loved ones as well! Now you know how to make an Altar, and remember to make sure to educate others about the significance of this beautiful holiday.

Below are a few pics of how we decorated and celebrated this occasion at our home.


Dining Room

Get the Look

Day of the Dead Curtain $20
4 Sugar Skull Plates $5

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Published by minimalistfarmstyle

Home decor enthusiasts, DIYer lover and in search of all things that simplify life and encourage kindness!

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