Category Archives: Mexican Papel Picado

El Dia de los Muertos

Skeletons

Skeletons

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

Greetings cards featuring Catrin and Catrina

Orange and purple papel picado for the Day of the Dead

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.

Papel Picado … Mexican paper decorations, party banners

Papel picado literally means ‘punched’ or ‘perforated’ paper. 

Most of the outdoor celebrations seen throughout Mexico are decorated using papel picado, or pierced paper. Panels of intricately pierced tissue paper are threaded on long strands of string, and hung in villages between rooftops, across porches, and inside. Papel picado is a “must have” decoration for any Mexican themed party.  There are particular decorations for each celebrations from the day of the dead celebration, christmas, wedding, independence and many other fiestas.

Using straight pins, and metal chisels, the artisans carefully carve their designs into the paper, cutting away the unneeded portions to reveal their designs. Careful thought is given as to which portion of the paper should be removed, so that the deisgn is clear.

P1000317 P1000315 P1000273The best papel picado is found in Puebla, Mexico.  It can also be found at the caoba shop.