Halloween night is coming. You’ve carved a scary pumpkin and pinned a skeleton to your front door. These creepy decorations, as old superstitions say, will help scare off the dead during the spooky holidays. But what if you wanted to lure the dead spirits to your house? Sounds odd, right? Not in Mexico!
The Day of the Dead, or el Día de los Muertos, goes back to the vibrant Aztec culture of Mexico. It was a month-long celebration intended to honor ancestors and the continuation of life. It’s the perfect extra holiday to add to your Halloween plans!
In the 16th century, when the Spanish defeated the Aztecs and began to rule their land, they needed to bring the two cultures together. One way of doing this was by joining Aztec rituals with Catholic holidays. Día de los Muertos was moved from its original date to November. This allowed the holiday to coincide with All Souls’ Day, which is still celebrated in many parts of Europe on November 2nd.
Today, the Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd in Mexico and many parts of the United States. (It’s Halloween’s holiday neighbor!) People continue the old tradition of offering delicious food, drink and flowers to their loved ones. The main flower of the holiday is the marigold, which was an important part of Aztec medicine, culture and ceremony.
The most popular place to celebrate Día de los Muertos? A cemetery. But if you don’t feel like sporting a skull in the graveyard, you can still honor the tradition by baking a skeleton and making a marigold! Celebrate Halloween and its holiday neighbour Día de los Muertos with these fun family activities!
For kids’ holiday desserts, we love Annabel Karmel! In honor of el Día de los Meurtos, we’ve taken a twist on her Halloween Eyeball Cupcakes. We have made all of ours look like skeletons! Let’s get creative this Halloween season!
- 125g soft margarine
- 125g granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 125g self raising flour
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1 tub creamy vanilla frosting
- Assorted candy for decoration
- Mix the margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs one at time together with a tablespoon of flour.
- Add the vanilla essence and fold in the remaining flour.
- Line a cupcake tin with paper cases and half fill each case with the mixture.
- Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes or until golden.
- Remove and cool on a wire rack.
- Decorate with the vanilla frosting and candy. We spread the vanilla frosting on top of our cupcakes. Then we used two chocolate chips for the eyes, raisins for the nostrils, and three candy corns for the teeth.
Kid Tip: If you want to add more “spook” to your skeleton cupcake, color half the frosting with a green or black food coloring!
Parent Tip: When looking to save time, store-bought cupcake mix is your friend!
To bring a bit of Ancient Aztec culture to your holiday, follow the steps below to create tissue paper marigolds. Make as many as you want. And, hey, who says they have to be red and gold? Use your favorite spooky colors and make whole bouquets in honor of Halloween and the Day of the Dead!
- Yellow, orange or red tissue paper
- Pipe cleaner (any color; chose green to look like a plant stem)
- Fold a sheet of tissue paper in half, “hamburger style”. (The two short ends meet.)
- Fold in half again, the same style.
- Starting at one of the shorter edges, make a paper fan (or accordion). Fold the short edge over 1/2 to 1 inch. Turn your paper over and fold the same edge again, making another 1/2 inch fold. Continue turning and folding until you’ve completed the accordion effect.
- Wrap one end of your pipe cleaner around the middle of your tissue paper accordion.
- Round the corners of your tissue paper by trimming with a pair of scissors.
- Spread out your accordion until it forms a flat, circular shape.
- Pull the first layer of tissue paper up toward the center of your accordion, all the way around the circle.
- Pull up the next layer of tissue paper the same way, toward your first layer. Continue pulling and fluffing your layers.
- Your paper flower is finished!