NERDIWEEN Week 3: ¡Feliz El Día de los Muertos!

Since I was a kid, I have always been fascinated with El Día de los Muertos, or The Day of the Dead. This Mexican celebration doesn’t really need an introduction nowadays, but when I was younger, it was just a footnote in the history books when we discussed Halloween traditions. But honestly, El Día de los Muertos is so much more than a holiday, which happens to fall around Halloween time. 

This three-day long celebration, beginning the night of October 31st and ending late on November 2nd, is a time to honor the dead rather than mourn their passing. It’s cheerfully decorated tombstones and day-glow sugar skulls. It’s rememberance, not remorse. Basically, it’s an incredibly awesome tradition that lifts the veil between the living and the dead. 

I’ve always loved a good Halloween special, but I go nuts for a Day of the Dead special. Just like this classic Lizzy McGuire episode: 

Another great Day of the Dead-themed episode was The Wild Thornberrys special, where the family goes to Mexico. But, the Lizzy McGuire one is just too good. And, it’s the inspiration for this week’s theme! 

If you want to celebrate El Día de los Muertos, here are some things you need to know:

  • The Day of the Dead celebration begins on October 31st, when the gates of heaven open up to allow the spirits of children to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On the next night, the spirits of the adults are released so that they may do the same thing. 
  • Families of the deceased build elaborate ofrendas, or altars full of offerings, for their loved ones. These are often filled with marigolds, sugar skulls, and pan de muerto (bread of the dead). For the children, toys and sweets are left on the altar, and tamales and liquor are left for the adults. 
  • During this time, the families throw parties in the graveyards as they clean and maintain their family plots, tombs, and headstones. 
  • One of the most well-known symbols of the Day of the Dead are the sugar skulls, which are molded skulls made out of sugar and meringue powder.  These are then elaborately decorated with royal icing and placed on the ofrenda.
  • The sugar skulls represent the soul, and often have the names of the deceased written on them. 
  • These sugar skulls will be my next tutorial! 

Yes, I decided I wanted to try to make my own sugar skulls, with a nerdy twist. Keep your eyes peeled for the post, coming Friday! Make sure to get your ofrenda ready before then. Also, tomorrow is the season finale of Face Off, so tune in on Wednesday for my final Face Off Digest of season 9!

In the meantime, learn more about El Día de los Muertos at mexicansugarskull.com. Also, don’t forget to watch that awesome Lizzy McGuire special! You’ll feel like you’re back in the early 2000s all over again!

Life was meant to be lived nerdily, so what are you waiting for? 

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