Friday, October 5, 2012

Day of the Dead - Meaning and Decor

Altar created by Leah Shelleda
Our Mexican banner design is inspired by the traditional cloth one.

What a surprise it was when we saw our Mexican "Sacred Heart" banner in Brides magazine! (Oct. 2012 issue.) Their theme was "Fiesta Mexicana".

Luna Bazaar's Red Mexican "Sacred Heart" banner in Brides Magazine
(PDF of article available here.)
You can download the original page, an inspiration board titled, "Planning a Party with a Yucatan Flair? Think Maracas, Tequila, and Day of the Dead Treats." You can get some useful party ideas, but what if you want to dig deeper? What is this ancient holiday all about? We asked Maia, of our sales team, to investigate! Decorations are a big part of the holiday. But the symbolism of the decorations is what makes them interesting. These are Maia's findings:

The Day of the Dead is soon going to be the setting for a new Pixar movie.
No doubt, key design elements of the film will be skeletons, banners, votives, and marigolds.
Each year there are cultural celebrations throughout the world focused on honoring the memory of deceased family members, friends and ancestors.  When the Spaniards arrived in the New World at the end of the15th Century, the Roman Catholic All Souls Day merged with the ancient traditions of Central and South American civilizations, to develop the holiday we know today as Dia de Los Muertos; or Day of the Dead.  

It is believed by the Central and South American people who celebrate this day that death is a time of transition when the Soul moves from this life to the next. On the days between October 28th and November 2nd communication can be established between worlds to reflect on the meaning of life and the passage of death.  Large festivals are held in which shrines are built in honor of loved ones and the favored foods of the departed are cooked and shared throughout the celebration.
Elaborate decorations are used to enliven the mood; flowers, sugar skulls, banners, garlands. All varieties of personal objects are used in memory of the dead, to express the joys of life.  
The Mexican cempasĂșchitl (marigold) is the traditional flower used to honor the dead.  These flowers are utilized and mimicked by similarly formed paper and fabric decorations, such as pompoms.
Marigold Harvest for Day of the Dead in Mexico 

It's easy to see why tissue paper pom-poms are used to represent marigolds in Day of the Dead celebrations.
(Flower photo from The Lovely Plants.)
In the Luna Bazaar store see: .Mango tissue paper pom-poms and Yellow tissue paper pom-poms.
For those of you looking to join in on the festivities, you can find decorations at Luna Bazaar to help you make the most of your experience. 

Panels from our paper Mexican Party Banner. Each panel is over a foot wide!
  Our beautifully handcrafted Mexican Banners offer vibrant colors with a traditional aesthetic. Each banner is 13 feet long, and is actually made in Mexico, unlike many others. The paper is hand-cut by artisans using chisels and a top pattern as a guide.

Although the tissue paper was originally brought to Europe from China and then to New Spain, the indigenous people of Mexico had already been using handmade paper, along with the tradition of cut decorative and ceremonial images for centuries. Today, this traditional paper art is used as decorations for all occasions and gives an immediately festive look to any celebration.

Votives for your celebration. Go to Luna Bazaar's Candle Holder selection.
We also carry a large variety of lovely vases to best incorporate the presence of flowers into your celebration, as well as complimentary candle holders for twinkling tea lights.

In Mexico, where ancient pre-Hispanic traditions mixed with European religious ritual, Altars are built to incorporate offerings in dedication to the deceased.  Traditionally the four main elements of nature are represented in the Altar.  Earth is assimilated by the presence of the crop, for it is believed by the Mexican people that Souls are nourished by the aroma of food.  Tissue paper is most often used to represent wind, because of the movement that it produces.  Water is placed as an offering, often in a decorative container, to quench the thirst of Souls who have traveled far to reach the Altar.  Candles are lit to portray each Soul that the Altars are meant for.  An extra candle is lit to commemorate the Soul that has been lost.

Consider our gift bags to wrap small offerings and gifts, or perhaps our beautiful ceramic dishes for food.  No matter how far you want to take the celebration, there is room for creativity and originality in your own perspectives on ritual and festivity.  As with any holiday, you may make it your own interpretation to enhance on those traditions with respect and enthusiasm.

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