Tag Archives: holidays

Calavera Catrina, the Elegant Skeleton

Mexico’s Day of the Dead actually takes place over two days; All Saints Day (November 1st) and All Souls Day (November 2nd). There are many images associated with the celebration, some we’ve already mentioned.

One of Caoba’s favourites is Calavera Catrina, the Skeleton Dame or Elegant Skeleton.

Retablo featuring Posada's Catrina

A retablo featuring Posada’s Catrina. From a range at Caoba

She originates from the beginning of the 20th century as a creation of the Mexican illustrator and satirist José Guadalupe Posada as a mocking representation of the Mexican

middle classes (and was said to bear more than a passing resemblance to the wife of Mexico’s then president). Much of Posada’s work was influenced by his contemporary, the lesser-known artist Manuel Manilla, but his famous series of satirical skeletons has embedded the character of Catrina as a Mexican icon, closely associated with the country’s national and cultural identity.

Caoba, Edinburgh carries a range of Catrinas represented in various forms; from greetings cards to fabric and most beautifully in a ceramic form almost too fragile to look at.

While researching the Catrinas I came across this article at huffingtonpost.com. It’s a comprehensive look at the Day of the Dead and makes fascinating reading if you want to learn more.

El Dia de los Muertos



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.