During the Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations homemade altars (ofrendas) are decorated with ornate sugar skulls as part of the traditional display, to attract and honour visiting spirits. Over the generations the brightly coloured, clay-moulded skulls have been have elevated into an artisanal art form in a uniquely Mexican way, to celebrate the happy return of the souls of lost friends and family.
Latterly sugar skull imagery has crossed borders and cultural boundaries; you will find sugar skulls on t-shirts, as tattoos, in jewellery; there is even an annual competition for creating the best sugar skulls in bead work. And what about a Sugar Skull Decorating party anyone?
Sugar skulls cushion cover
At Caoba we carry Alexander Henry fabrics and prints and cards featuring sugar skulls all year round because we love them and know our customers do too!
While most of us are preparing for Halloween at the end of October, November 1st in Mexico is the Day of the Dead, el Dia de los Muertos. Preparations go on all year for the National holiday, which extends over two days and centres around the celebration of lives of deceased family and friends. It’s not the maudlin, bleak occasion we British might expect but one of joy, colour, and funny stories; a party to celebrate the lives already lived.
Friends and family gather in cemeteries, around highly decorated altars covered with bright yellow and orange marigold blossoms as well as the deceased’s favourite foods, drink and possessions. Trails of the flowers are often laid out to encourage the souls to return for the party, to join the gathering for prayers and the celebration of their lives. Light and smoke from candles and Copal incense add to the heady atmosphere.
Greetings cards featuring Catrin and Catrina
Orange and purple papel picado for the Day of the Dead
With a growing number of Day of the Dead-inspired celebrations taking place in the UK, sugar skulls, Catrins and Catrinas, candles, papel picados and skeletons in many forms are all increasingly familiar images and decorations. And lots of them, as well as copal incense are available from our Stockbridge shop, or online.