100 Things to Celebrate: Los Dias de Muertos

Those of you who know me know that Halloween is definitely NOT one of my favorite holidays….old story not worth repeating.  I will say, however, that the Halloween parties at Folktale Winery and Vineyards in Carmel Valley, CA the last two years have started to change my mind.  If they have one next year, I highly encourage going!  What fun and always for a good cause!

The holiday for which I DO have great reverence is Los Dias de Muertos…otherwise known as The Day of the Dead.  Although Los Dias de Muertos shares some of the same elements as Halloween such as costumes, skeletons and treats, the celebrations differ in their history and intention.

The Day of the Dead ceremonies take place on November 1-2 throughout most of Mexico.  The origin is thought to be an Aztec harvest festival where “ofrendas” or offerings were placed on the gravesite of the departed.

La Catrina, a fancy skeleton wearing a huge, feather hat, presides over the festivities.  Sugared skulls are seen everywhere, most likely a nod to the Aztecs death imagery often seen in their sculpture, painting and architecture.  Marigolds, the “flower of the dead” are used generously at the grave sites as their scent is believed to attract the departed souls and draw them back.

Colorful papel picado (fiesta pennants) often decorate the altar adorned with fruits of the season.  Also prominent are loaves of pan de muertos which is a sweet bread baked in a round shape symbolizing the circle of life and decorated with dough shaped like skulls and crossbones.  Framed photographs of the departed souls are often seen with their favorite food and beverage.

On this upcoming Dias de Muertos, it is with humble gratitude and veneration that we here at Illusions of Grandeur honor those that have been a part of our family and our history.

  • Jorge Cabrera
  • Carlos Zarate
  • Dan Adelezzi
  • Javier Olvera
  • Gustavo Jimenez
  • Magdaleno Bocanegro
  • Alejandro (Alex) Cabrera
  • James Wood (my landlord for over 25 years)