Day of the Dead / Dia de los Muertos Costumes
El Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, originated in Mexico. It is now celebrated in Portugal, Spain and many other Latin American countries. Many U.S. cities that are home to large numbers Hispanic people also hold celebrations.
The purpose of the Day of the Dead is to honor, remember and celebrate loved ones who have died. It falls on November 2, coinciding with the Catholic All Saints Day (November 1) and All Souls Day (November 2). It's just chance that it comes right after Halloween, which is of Celtic origin. There is no connection between the two celebrations.
The roots of Día de los Muertos go back to indigenous peoples before Europeans came to Central and South America. The Maya believed that their ancestors' spirits stayed with them and wanted offerings of food from the living. The Aztecs had a festival in early autumn to honor Mictecacihuatl, their queen or goddess of the underworld or "Lady of the Dead." She is the inspiration for the Calavera Catrina, a popular Day of the Dead costume and decor theme. The Catrina is a colorful decorated skeleton or just a skull. Then, in the 1500s, Spanish explorers and missionaries brought the Catholic faith to the region. The native traditions became absorbed into and mixed with the imported ones.
To non-Hispanics this may seem macabre, but modern celebrations of Día de los Muertos are festive and fun. Families set up altars called ofrendas in their homes. They decorate them with candles, sugar skulls, and marigolds. They also display photos, possessions and favorite foods of their departed loved ones. They believe that when the souls of the dead see their altar, they take in the spiritual essence of the food. The living can and do eat the food after the celebration, but they believe that it lacks any nutritional value at that point. They wear skeleton or Calaveras Catrinas masks and costumes, like the ones we have. They gather in cemeteries to decorate the graves, pray for, and tell stories about their departed loved ones.
Even if you're not Hispanic, you can join in a celebration of Día de los Muertos in one of our skeleton or Day of the Dead costumes. We have styles and sizes for the whole family, with masks, makeup and other accessories to complete any look.
To host a Day of the Dead party, decorate your home with marigold flowers and some of our skull or skeleton-themed items. Maybe even set up an ofrenda. Then find some sugar skulls at a Mexican market, look up a recipe for "pan de muerto" (bread of the dead), and you're ready for a fiesta!