As I’m sure you’re aware by now I’m a huge fan of sugar skulls and they heavily influence my jewellery. By why and what are they all about? Read on for more information about this fascinating culture!
Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead, or Dia De Los Muertos, is a holiday celebrated in central and southern Mexico on 1st and 2nd November to honour deceased loved ones in a similar way to Halloween in this country. The multi-day holiday involves family and friends gathering to pray for and to remember friends and family members who have died. It is commonly portrayed as a day of celebration rather than mourning.
When we went to America for our Honeymoon Disneyland had a whole section dedicated to Day of the Dead and their amazing film Coco. Here’s me and my husband enjoying the festivities!
Decorating the home with an Ofrenda
This year I’ve decided to have my own ofrenda (Spanish for “offering”) which is a home altar with a collection of objects placed on a ritual display during Día de Muertos. In Mexico these altars can contain the favourite foods and beverages, as well as photos and memorabilia, of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls so they will hear the prayers and the remembrance of them.
I have pictures of my Mum, brother and my maternal grandparents. I also have some sugar skulls and we have lit candles. I’ve even bought a Pan de muerto which is a type of sweet roll shaped like a bun, topped with sugar, and decorated with bone-shaped pieces of the same pastry. I got mine from Sweet Nibble bakery. I also bought these sugar cute crochet sugar skulls which are made by Art_Mkt!
One of the most iconic and colourful items seen during the festivities is the sugar skull or calavera. These skulls, which can come in different sizes, are traditionally made of sugar and are decorated with icing to be fun and colourful. Some even have feathers, glitter, hats, or other objects attached to make them more personal.
Sugar skulls are sometimes eaten, but their main function is to adorn the altars and tombs with a sugary delight for the visiting spirits. I have several sugar skulls as you might expect, and I won’t be eating mine mainly because they’re not actually edible ones!
But why SUGAR skulls? In Mexico, a country abundant in sugar production and perhaps too poor to buy fancy imported European church decorations, people learned quickly how to make sugar art for their religious festivals. Clay moulded sugar figures of angels, sheep and sugar skulls go back to the 18th century. Sugar skulls represented a departed soul and often had names written on their foreheads and placed on the home “ofrenda” or gravestone to honour the return of a particular spirit. Sugar skull art reflects the folk-art style of big happy smiles, colourful icing and sparkly tin and glittery adornments.
You might think that the sugar skulls can look a bit scary but they are meant to be happy, colourful and are meant to capture the joy and happy memories associated with lost loved ones which is why I am particularly fond of them and include them in my jewellery.