Sweet Death

Sweet Death

Creative Hands of Mexico

The term artesanía roughly translates to “handcrafts” or “folk art” although cultural differences mean that the terms are not completely equal. For example, the adjective artesanal can and often is applied to certain processed foods such as bottle salsas, chocolate, coffee and alcohols if said products are made at a home or by a small enterprises that do not use industrial methods.

Despite the tempation cover some of these artesanal goods (as they ARE wonderful), I have stuck to products that fit the definition of handcrafted in English. However, there is one tradition that truly blurs the line between edible and non-edible “handcrafts.”


Alfeñique is the creation of a sugar paste, which is then molded into various decorative shapes. The term is not known to foreigners, but anyone who has been to Mexico during Day of the Dead (esp. in central Mexico) has seen its most representative product… a highly…

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Blissful Mexican Recipes To Celebrate Day Of The Dead

Blissful Mexican Recipes To Celebrate Day Of The Dead

The Day of the Dead is a celebration which, like everything in Mexico, calls for lots of delicious food!  Continue reading “Blissful Mexican Recipes To Celebrate Day Of The Dead”

How To Celebrate The Mexican Day Of The Dead

How To Celebrate The Mexican Day Of The Dead

The Day of the Dead starts today! Join in this Mexican celebration of life. Here’s all about what to do on this day and how to set up your own altar offering. Have a wonderful Day of the Dead celebration!

My Heart of Mexico

Hola, amigos! Here in Mexico, it’s time to celebrate the Day of the Dead. Perhaps this sounds scary to you, but it’s really a very family-friendly holiday. Would you like to know what all the fuss is about?  Keep reading!

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The Day of the Dead in Mexico: What’s it all about?

Happy Halloween! Here in Mexico, we’re getting ready to celebrate the Day of the Dead. Read what it’s all about in this post by Ted Campbell at No Hay Bronca blog.

No Hay Bronca

In Mexico, a country full of color, tradition, and flavor, the Day of the Dead stands out as especially colorful, traditional, and flavorful. Rooted in Pre-Hispanic practice and caught up in the trick-or-treat influence of Halloween, the holiday is a chance to honor deceased relatives with an altar in the home, dress up as an elegant skeleton, and sample the best of Mexico’s artesanal candy.

The Day of the Dead takes place on November 2, but it’s celebrated several days or even weeks before, especially when it happens midweek, making a long weekend. While it’s one of the most public holidays in Mexico, in many ways it’s also the most personal. Besides costumes and outdoor events (more on those below), perhaps the most interesting part of the holiday is that people visit the cemetery where their loved ones are buried.

They clean it up, decorate it with flowers, and even may…

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Day of the Dead altars for novice spirits

Day of the Dead altars for novice spirits

On this upcoming Day of the Dead in Mexico, the recently deceased will get a special altar to welcome them when they arrive on All Soul’s Day. Take a look at this beautiful post at Creative Hands of Mexico blog.

Creative Hands of Mexico

The most important element of Day of the Dead in Mexico is the setting up of an altar (literally “offering” (ofrenda)) to honor the dead. In homes all over Mexico, these altars are of a personal nature, featuring loved ones who have passed on. Common elements include marigold flowers (which bloom at this time of the year), religious images, food offerings and very often, photographs.

797px-%e4%ba%a1%e7%81%b5%e8%8a%82%e7%9a%84%e5%9d%9b credit JaaGuuAr

The purpose of the altars is to make a connection with the departed loved ones, as Day of the Dead has roots in pre Hispanic beliefs, which included the return of the dead once a year to visit the living. Hence Day of the Dead is not a somber or frightening occasion, but almost a happy one, a chance to relive memories.

ddm3_alina Day of the Dead altar dedicated to various Mexican authors (credit Gomez, A01335017,CCM)

I personally have found it psychologically rewarding, thousands…

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How we celebrate Día de los Muertos in San Luis Potosí

How we celebrate Día de los Muertos in San Luis Potosí

Meet Liz at Aculturame blog. She was born in Mexico but now lives in the USA and travels the world. This is a wonderful post where she describes the Day of the Dead celebration in her native San Luis Potosi, Mexico.


Día de los Muertos in San Luis Potosí Día de los Muertos in San Luis Potosí

Towards the end of October, my grandmother made preparations for this special holiday, Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Sometimes, if she had time, she would prepare her own Pan de Muerto (bread of the dead) otherwise she would special order it from the bakery; a few of them specialize in making this bread for this specific holiday. She would also send one of her granddaughters to buy colorful sugar skulls in all kinds of sizes as part of the decoration for the altar, and she would special order the best cempasúchil flowers (yellow marigolds) from the open-air market.

The last week of October she would prepare an altar with colorful papel picado (fancy crepe paper garlands) and set up pictures of beloved family members who have passed away. She would place items that the dead enjoyed while…

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Let me die like a Mexican: embracing the Day of the Dead

Let me die like a Mexican: embracing the Day of the Dead

I’ve written about what the Day of the Dead means for us Mexicans, but this time I will share another point of view. Meet Clarita Mannion and how she embraced the Day of the Dead, from the outside in.

Thinking Through My Fingers

“A civilisation that denies death ends by denying life.”

-Octavio Paz.

They say you only truly die when your name is spoken for the last time. Nowhere is this more true than in Mexico, where Día de Muertos – or Day of the Dead – takes remembering lost loved ones to a whole new level.

At first glance, this national holiday may pass for a Mexican version of Halloween, with its spooky skeletons and sweet treats. But while modern Halloween exists purely to peddle pumpkins and face paint, Día de Muertos is a bittersweet reflection on love, loss and life well lived.


According to Mexican tradition, 2nd November is the one day when souls can leave the afterlife. To help guide lost loved ones back to earth, families build elaborate altars in homes and graveyards. These offerings are draped with flower garlands and colourful crêpe paper, and hung with corn…

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10 Day of the Dead Instagram Pics You Need to See

10 Day of the Dead Instagram Pics You Need to See

Hola, amigos! Despite the creepy name the Day of the Dead is one of Mexico’s most colorful festivities and one of my favorites too. Get a feel for this delightful holiday in these beautiful Instagram pictures. Continue reading “10 Day of the Dead Instagram Pics You Need to See”

The Grand Dame of Day of the Dead

The Grand Dame of Day of the Dead

In Mexico, the Death figure is not a hooded specter but a sassy, grinning skeleton lady dressed in glamorous outfits. This is her story.

Creative Hands of Mexico

Few images in Mexico are as ubiquitous or have the depth of meaning as the female grinning skeleton with a large overly-adorned hat and a gown from the late 19th century.

She is known as La Calavera Catrina (The Catrina Skull) or simply La Catrina. Her image, and those since derived from it, can not only be seen in Mexican handcrafts,  but also in Mexico graphic and fine art. In fact, it is the latter two which brought this particular figure to life.

451px-jose_guadalupe_posada_calavera_oaxaquena_broadsheet_1903 Print sheet with skeletal imagry dedicated to Oaxaca by Posada (1903)

Catrina began as one of a number of skeletal figures created by José Guadalupe Posada, a graphic artist publishing in Mexico City newspapers in the late 19th and very early 20th centuries. His importance to the development of post Mexican Revolution culture cannot be overstated, deserving of its own article.

Originally La Catrina was only a…

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Eye candy

Eye candy

Ever wondered where all those colorful candy skulls come from? Your questions answered here!

Creative Hands of Mexico

Alfeñique is a sugar confection of Arab and Spanish origin which was introduced into Mexico to replace the Aztec tradition of molding offerings with amaranth (a kind of pseudo grain).

800px-alfenique_argentinaThe pieces are made from a paste which consists of powdered sugar, a vegetable adhesive, lemon and stiffly beaten egg white. The damp paste is similar to clay in consistency, allowing the creation of decorative figures either by hand or in molds. Interestingly enough, while the pieces are perfectly edible, they are quite hard and don’t melt easily in the mouth… so they are rarely eaten.

The best-known of these are the sugar skulls for Day of the Dead, which are decorated, often highly so, and traditionally feature the name of someone living, including children, for whom the piece is intended.  These skulls are nearly indispensible on Day of the Dead altars in many parts (but not all) of the…

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