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Day of the Dead

I have to admit, the first time I heard about a celebration called “Day of the Dead”, I thought it meant focusing on death(!)  Then I got curious, activated my courage, and found out more. It turns out, Day of the Dead is a holiday of joyous celebration!

Dia de los Muertos puzzle

Dia de los Muertos by Gibbs Smith - 500 pieces

Day of the dead (Dia de los Muertos) is a multi-day holiday for friends and family to get together to remember loved ones who have died.  The holiday is meant to be joyful and people often remember funny events and stories about those who have passed on.

Baron In Bloom puzzle

Baron In Bloom by Anatolian 1000 pieces

Here are some traditional ways to celebrate the Day of the Dead:

Make Calaveras:  A calavera is any artistic representation of a skull or skeleton. It can be edible or decorative. It is usually made from sugar or clay and decorated with things like colored foil, paint, icing, beads, and feathers.

Traditional Mexican Skulls puzzle

Traditional Mexican Skulls by Eurographics 1000 pieces 


Decorate with Marigold Flowers (cempazuchitl):  It is believed that the spirits of the dead visit during the Day of the Dead and that marigolds guide the souls to their family home. The name cempazuchitl means “the flower of twenty petals”.  According to legend, the sun god gifted the marigold to the people so that they could honor the dead.

Day of the Dead puzzle

Day of the Dead by Vermont Christmas Company 1000 pieces

Set Up a Home Altar (ofrenda):  An ofrenda is an altar for a person who has died that is created by their family. It is often quite large and elaborate and is intended to welcome the spirit of the departed. An ofrenda contains three levels: a picture of the departed person being invited to the altar, the dead person’s favorite food, especially a sweet bread called pan de muerto (and maybe even a shot of tequila or mezcal!), and lit candles along with things for the departed to refresh themselves like a mirror, washbasin, soap, and a towel. Decorated candy skulls (calaveras) and marigolds (cempazuchitl) are interspersed on all three levels.

Make Papel Picado:  Papel picado (perforated or “pecked paper”) is a traditional Mexican folk art made by cutting elaborate designs into sheets of tissue paper and stringing them together to create a banner.  The banners are hung at home, outside, or across alleyways. Common themes are birds, floral designs, hearts, and skeletons.


Papel Picado puzzle

Papel Picado by Cobble Hill 500 pieces


The Day of the Dead isn’t only about remembering the dead. It is also a day for friends to give gifts like sugar skulls, to share pan de muerto (a sweet bun decorated with pieces shaped like bones), and to write irreverent poems called calaveras literarias (skull literature) to tease both the dead and the living. Calaveras literarias pokes fun at a person’s shortcomings and at the inevitability of death itself.

Doodle Skull puzzle

Doodle Skull by Heye1000 Pieces

If this is your first time celebrating Day of the Dead, find a friend who already knows how to celebrate and maybe even bring them a gift of a skull puzzle!

Tracy @16feet

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5 Stars
Philip L. - St. George, UT

I did "Doodle Skull" about a month ago. It was fun to see all the funky doodles come together, though the black bits were trickier & time consuming.

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