Festivals References & Resources

Latino, Mexican All Souls´ Day

002latino1200The Day of the Dead, (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) or All Souls´ Day is celebrated primarily in the country of mexico, although is becoming popular in the United States and countries where the Catholic faith predominates among latino and hispanic cultures.


The carnival festival begins at midnight October 31 when it is believed the dead rise to walk among the living to reunite with family and friends to commune and converse for 24 hours.  The evet is considered a happy and colorful celebration and Mexico's most important religious event.  The celebration usually lasts until November 2. 


Celebrants erect ofrendas, ornately designed alters, in honor of past relatives.  These ofrendas may contain flowers, food, candies, such as sugar skulls and other sweet treats along with the traditional lightly sweetened bread staple "Pan de Muerto".  


Celebrants paint faces with henna tattooe ink to emulate scary skeleton skulls, don highly decorated, festive costumes and make or purchase folk art to parade to their family cemetaries to commune with dead loved ones to acknowledge contributions to their lives, appeal for luck, special favors and appease spirits with food, drink and comradarie.  Festivities include live entertainment, village musical bands, games and contests, all taking place in local cemetaries. 


Family members spruce up the tombs and graves of their past relatives and teach children family history to reinforce family ties and connections. 


On this day it is believed that dead relatives return from their resting places to visit their loved ones. Families visit cemeteries and churches bringing with them with flowers, candles, and prayer to reinforce the solidarity between living and dead persons.

Origins of the holiday date back to Aztec festivals dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl who watches over the bones of the dead.  

Print paper skulls and skeletons and other fun Day of the Dead celebratory crafts with scissorcraft:

  • Explore Scissorcraft web sites for numerous mask types and styles from animal skull masks to Halloween skull patterns for carving pumpkins and gourds.

Recommended Mexican Mask Resources


Death head masks are usually decorated with bright colors and fantastic designs. Calaveras are colorfully decorated sugar skulls that are made both to adorn altars and to be eaten on the Day of the Dead.

Calaca skulls and skeletons wear festive clothing with flowery hats decorated with marigold flowers and foliage and are usually shown, dancing, and playing musical instruments.