Tuesday, November 5, 2013

El Festival de las Calaveras - Festival of Bones

More than 3000 years ago, the Aztec Indians, who dwelled in Mexico, spent many months each year honor and tending to their deceased family members with ceremonies and rituals. Each year, in the same tradition as the Aztec Indians, on November 1st and 2nd, the Day of the Dead is celebrated in cities, towns and villages throughout Mexico. People attend mass, set up altars in their homes, and clean and decorate the graves of family members. They gather for days of celebration with singing and dancing and enjoying festive food. The activities associated with the Day of the Dead or El Festival de las Calaveras allow families to dedicate time each year to honor those who have passed away.

One of the traditional folk art customs is for family members to create brightly painted skeleton and skull figures. "Sugar Skulls" are decorative folk art pieces created specifically for the celebration. These pieces are beautify crafted and often highly decorated. Day of the Dead folk art skulls are usually far less realist than skeleton masks worn during our Halloween. These masks are traditionally painted in bright festive colors and have a symmetrical design.

Attached are samples from some 3rd grade student who have captured the beauty, intricacy and symmetry of the Day of the Dead paper "Sugar Skulls".