Christmas index

Day of the Dead

The Day of the Dead, or Día de Muertos is a Mexican festival. The multi-day holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. It ends on November 2nd, All Souls Day. I find it a surprisingly life-affirming idea. The following ideas come from the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, who have set up an altar for the dead for the last couple of years.

The altar is set up in memory of a dead person or persons. It can have a photo of them, and things connected with them, like books or music. There may be skeletons on the altar, and flowers, especially marigolds. Decorations may also include a Papel Picado, a tissue paper banner with cut-out holes. There is also food for the dead. Here is my altar, in memory of my parents:

Altar for Day of the Dead

The dragon isn't really part of the tradition, but he wanted to join in! (He did belong to my parents.) Also the pictures above are normally on my wall, but seemed to fit. So I don't know how traditional this is. The purple Papel Picado and the skull picture came from the Museum of Arc and Anth event, so did the red flower, which they taught me how to make. I suspect that it should really be a marigold, but I made a red popy, to connect with our own Remembrance Day.

Paper flower

Here is how to make a paper flower. You need 4 sheets of tissue paper, about 10 cms by 16 cms. They can be mixed colours, or all the same colour (I obviously chose red). Put them on top of each other, and concertina them all, so the folds are parallel to the short edge. The folds should be about the width of a finger.

Paper flower - stage 1

Push the folds together, and wind a pipe cleaner (or other wire) round the centre, then twist the wire to form the flower stem.

Paper flower - stage 2

Trim both ends to a petal shape - possibly rounded, or a sant for pointed petals. Remembe, you are cutting through lots of layers at this point!

Paper flower - stage 3

Pull round the folds to make a circle shape. (The stem is behind the flower in the picture.)

Paper flower - stage 4

Pull forward most of the layers to create the different levels of petals.

Paper flower - stage 5