El Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead is a holiday celebrated primarily in Mexico and Latin America, though there are versions in places like Ireland, India, and the Philippines. Día de los Muertos can take place over several days, with families and friends getting together to celebrate their loved ones who have died.
Traditionally, you decorate the grave of your loved one, and build them an ofrenda, or altar. This will have things like photos of them, and the things that they liked in life. It is believed that these loved ones come back to visit us on Día de los Muertos, so you also make it easier for them to find their way back, with strong smelling cempazúchitl, or marigold flowers, and luminarias. You’ll also see skeletons, many with colorful decorations, and some made out of sugar! Skeletons are usually doing things that people did in their lifetime, to remind us that death is a part of the journey, and not to take it too seriously.
Now that you know a bit about the holiday, here are two crafts you can do to celebrate!
Our version of a luminaria involves the following supplies:
- a jar (ours is plastic, but you could also use glass)
- a battery-operated candle
- thin paper, like tracing paper or vellum paper
- Markers (permanent or washable)
Measure out paper to fit inside the jar. On the paper, you can draw something. Use your creativity here; it could be skulls, skeletons, flowers, or whatever you would like. Once you are done decorating the paper, it can go into your jar. Turn on the candle, drop it into the jar, and then you are done!
Pedro Linares, a Mexican sculptor, was the creator of alebrijes, which you can see during Día de los Muertos and in movies like Coco. They are animals but with fantastical elements that you can’t see in real life. He was inspired to create these after getting sick and having a dream about a land with creatures like a donkey with butterfly wings, a rooster with bull horns, a lion with an eagle head.
To make your own alebrije, here is what you will need:
- Colored cardstock + Pattern
- Markers, colored pencils, crayons
Print out the pattern and trace it onto your cardstock paper. First, fold your paper on a diagonal. (You can also do a different animal, just make sure to trace it on a fold so it will have two sides.)
Cut through both sides of paper, leaving the sides connected along the fold. Next, cut out the tail and fold it in half.
Next, decorate your animal. You can also cut out other decorations for your animal, like wings, horns, or whatever you’d like.