Calaveras, Celebrations, Day of the Dead, Dia de Los Muertos, Infographic on Day of the Dead, Latina Lista, Latino culture, Ofrendas, Pan muerto, Papel Picado, Sugar Skulls

10 Must Have Items for Dia De Los Muertos

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Right after the candy and costumes of Halloween, we have the celebration of Dia De Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead (DoD). 

This is an ancient tradition which has been reintroduced into the United States in the 1990’s. 

I am the second generation Mexican American. The DoD celebration was not part of my childhood or young adult years. The kids in my barrio went across town, to the North side, to go Trick or Treating. We did not stay home and build altars, make sugar skulls or bake pan de Muerto.

Well, I take that back. Most of the homes in our neighborhood had little altars in the living room or in the front yard, but they housed the Virgen de Guadalupe, or a saint, some small candles, and maybe a memorial card of a loved one.   

As a full out celebration, the DoD was not practiced much in the ’60’s and 70’s the USA. But it has found an additional home with Hispanic and non-Hispanic millennials. I’d venture to say it’s now practiced by many Latino baby boomers and Gen X’s. In fact, I’m attending my sixth DofD celebration, this time at our county museum. 

This infographic by GolinHarris on the Traveling Latina site gives an eye-opening look into the “new” old celebration. 

The sugar skulls, dancing calaveras (skeletons), Papel Picado, marigolds, ofrendas, altars and revelry has caught on in the U.S. Big time. Like Hollywood big time

So for those who have not attended a DoD fest, here’s a guide to have your own celebration:

day of the dead altar
Day of the Dead Nicho-flickr.com

 

                 10 Must Have Items for Dia De Los Muertos

  • Altar: This can be on an end table, on the unused dining table, a niche, or atop of a sturdy box. The altar is a remembrance of the dearly departed. 
  • Papel Picado. This is preforated paper, easy to make with tissue and scissors. The element of air is visible when the paper flutters. 
  • Ofrendas/Offerings. What items represent the departed; what did she/he enjoy?
  • Cempasuchitl/Marigolds. Thse flowers symbolized death. Their strong fragrance is said to help the departed ‘smell’ their way back to your altar.
  • Candles. These help light the way for the departed and welcome them back. This is the element of fire.
Calavera Cookies-www.alvaradofrazier.com
Calavera Cookies-www.alvaradofrazier.com
  • Food. This could be a favorite food of the departed (full meals to snacks) plus pan de muerto, a sweet bread in the shape of a skull. I liked these homemade cookies. Fruit represents the earth.
  • Liquid. This element represent water. The liquid could be any favorite beverage of the departed.
  • Photos. Place your favorite photos in prominent places for guests to see.
  • Incense. This may take you back to Catholic school days, but incense is chosen because it is a strong smelling aroma which is needed to guide the spirit back. Some people use sage or copal.
  • Stories. This gives you an opportunity to tell your friends, children, grandchildren stories about the departed and what they meant to you.

Now that you know the meaning of Dia De Los Muertos, go and celebrate your loved ones.

Art, Chingonas, How to be a Chingona, Latina, Latino culture, Papel Picado, Self-confidence, Self-Esteem, Strong Women, Yreina F.Ortiz

Today I Will be Chingona

I don’t know if this is a coincidence, or not, but Chingona’s have fallen out of the sky and into my lap. Most of you know the definition of a chingona. If not, here’s last week’s post which gives you an idea. For a practical application you can read the 10 Steps from Sandra Cisneros

Yreina Flores Ortiz is a Poeta, Artista Chingona. She used the Mexican folk art craft of Papel Picado to make this artistic piece titled “Today I will be Chingona.” (This is a photo of my own copy).


The designs are cut from tissue paper or by folding the tissue paper and using small, sharp scissors. They are commonly displayed for both secular and religious occasions, such as Easter, Christmas, the Day of the Dead, as well as during weddings, baptisms, and christenings. 


This poem furthers the definition of Chingona.


Today I Will Be Chingona
Today, I will greet the sun as my relative
and give the morning my full attention.
I will say “I love you” into the mirror
and draw my eyeliner extra straight.
I will not call myself fat
because everything in my closet will look good on me.
I will rock my huge Latina hips
like the blessing they are.
Watch out!
I might even wear heels.
Today, I will not hand out one unnecessary apology.
Today, I will be Chingona!
-Yreina Flores Ortiz
You can find this framed piece on Etsy.com. (Please ask for permission to use poem or graphic, it is copyrighted). Click Yreina’s name under the frame to find out more about this talented craftswoman, photographer, graphic artist, and teacher from Indio, CA where the temperature rises to 120 degrees and your chanclas (sandals) melt if you don’t put them in the fridge, like my tia used to do. 

Loving yourself, taking care of you, appreciation for your body, feeling your connectedness to the world, and being your best self is what I find when I read the poem. 

What do you find?