I'm tagging along on the Rebel & Malice 2nd Annual Dia De Los Muertos Blog Tour! I never officially signed up, because I'm air-headed that way sometimes, but I've been inspired by all of the loveliness (and tasty treats!) the other bloggers have made! So I'm determined to celebrate this new-to-me tradition as well!
But there's a catch.
I have no functioning sewing machine.
But I do have a serger! And a brand new Silhouette! So hang out with me while I craft a "Plan B" Day of the Dead contribution!
As I stated before, Dia De Los Muertos is new-to-me. I guess I always knew it existed, but I knew nothing of substance about it. Which is just shameful to me, because I'm a total culture nerd. I had the privilege of visiting a dozen or so countries in my relatively short life on this planet, and even living in 3 of them. How cultures differ, and ways they're similar, completely and totally fascinate me. I suspect it's because I'm a cliche American "melting pot" byproduct and have no strong cultural tradition of my own, so I'm going to absorb and enlighten myself to everyone else's. I guess that makes me less of a culture nerd and more of a culture pirate... ARGG!
Dia de los Meurtos is like no other tradition I've encountered. There are costumes, so I guess that's a bit like Halloween. Except... it's not done in jest. There are altars, but it's nothing like the solemn masses I've attended throughout my life. There are flowers, but it's not a romantic offering like on Valentine's Day. It's a CELEBRATION! So it's kind of like a birthday party. But it's not celebrating the living. It honors the dead like a funeral... but it's not about mourning their loss.
No... it's more like a welcome home party. Which is exactly what families are preparing for - the dead returning for a few days to dance, dine, and be merry with the people they left behind in the land of the living.
There are a couple of ways I could embrace and reimagine the symbolism of Dia De Los Muertos, so let's talk about them:
- "Whimsical" skeletons are often seen repeating the activities the dead enjoyed in life. Marriage, arts, hobbies, etc.
- Marigolds - the flower of the dead - adorn graves and altars, and petal-paths are arranged from loved ones' grave sites to the homes of the living to guide the dead home when they return.
- Papel Picado artwork - detailed paper cut-outs depicting the dead. I’m going to cheat and use my Silhouette to achieve this same look, but traditionally these are done by hand and very delicate.
- Sugar Skulls are ornaments (or tastey treats!) left as offerings on altars or devoured during the festivities!
Now, I’m fortunate enough in my life to not have many “dead”. My dad’s parents passed when I was really small, and far too young to remember much. So I decided to imagine my 4 year old (or a 4 year old) as the dead. Turns out that this is rather timely, as today (Nov 1st) is the day of remembering children - los angelitos.
The silhouette itself is very "papel picado"-esque, with it's detailed image cut from all one color. I borrowed from a series of google search results to assemble the skeleton, the heart, and the decorated skull.
The belly is full of sugar skull cookies any 4 year old muerto would likely consume. I used the Stitch Art sugar skull design, though I would have loved the more colorful FMA alternative :(
The hood is my favorite! I love the marigold (or, whatever yellow flower abomination I made intending to be a marigold) to bring in that pop of color! I used the Bimaa sweater for this project, with a nice wide hood ripe for HTV details. (With every raw edge banded or enclosed I knew this would fit my serger-only agenda!)
My favorite part of this look is that it is temporary. This is a big theme in all things Dia De Los Muertos - flowers wilt, food is eaten, paper tears, and mantles are disassembled - and that’s no coincidence. After all - Day of the Dead is an annual reminder that life is limited. The outfit, like all the rest, will only be a blip on her wardrobe radar. She’ll grow before too long and we’ll have to come up with a whole new Dia De Los Muertos interpretation next year!
Thanks for checking out my Dia De Los Muertos project! I had so much fun learning about this tradition and the history behind it. Thanks to Melissa for the push to join this year's tour (or you know, be a groupie alongside the real bloggers. Whichever ;))