November 1, 2007
DIA DE LOS MUERTOS CRAFT: All about shrines
It's officially Dia de los Muertos season!
The first night of the two-day event begins at midnight, and it's the spirits of the babies and children who come to visit their former homes or gravesites. By this time tomorrow, they will have returned to the afterworld, and the adults will arrive.
Dia de los Muertos isn't just about cute skeletons, gallery-worthy altars or fun crafts. It's about respecting our ancestors and loved ones who have crossed over. It's welcoming their spirits back with open hearts and arms. That's why we create ofrendas at home or at gravesites with all the things that will make their senses tingle. Things that will make them feel alive on Earth again. If your Aunt Mary used to love bottled Coca Cola, imagine how big she will smile when she gets to taste it again! Make Dia de los Muertos be a personal experience for you, especially if you have recently lost someone you care deeply for.
Don't cry for them today or tomorrow. Do not let yourself feel regret or sorrow. They are here, tell them what you need to tell them, because they are listening. They hear you. Close your eyes and feel them beside you, enjoying the treats you set out for them. They are happy because you care enough to remember the joyful times, the smiles, the love and warmth they brought to your life, and you to theirs. That's what they want you to think of! This is a time to party with them again!
Remember Dia de los Muertos is about celebrating life - not mourning death. We celebrate the cycle of life. Not only the deceased, but our own lives - right now. Let these days remind you to count your blessings. To try new things. Take chances. Meet new people. Let yourself experience goosebumps galore! That is truly living. Give your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren something to remember you for!
Whew. That was intense, I get like that around this time of the year. But as with so many things these days, it's easy to forget the true meaning. There are calaca clothes, shoes, jogging suits, barrettes, candy, posters, you name it! That's all cool, because it hopefully will motivate people to learn more about what Dia de los Muertos is all about. But just in case, I wanted to send out my little reminder :-)
OK, let me share some altars and shrines I've made so you can get ideas to make your own!
How to make a traditional altar
How to make a contemporary altar
This mint tin shrine I made for Patrick's Grandpa Greg. He was such a cute man, so dapper and downright lovable. He was in his mid-80s and he would still flirt with the young girls and faithfully watch Sabado Gigante every weekend. He always had Jolly Ranchers in his pockets and passed them out to everyone from his grandkids to the pharmicist at the drug store. There are other little personal objects in this shrine that he would enjoy.
When it comes to making your ofrenda, it can be as simple as a photo and a marigold flower, or an ornate display. Even if you haven't lost anyone, make a shrine for victims of violence or disasters, your favorite movie star, pet or someone who really inspired you.