Today is not only Halloween, it also kicks offThe Day of the Dead celebration. November 2 is the official date for Day of the Dead, although it is celebrated between October 31 and November 2. These dates correspond with the Catholic celebrations of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. The Day of the Dead is distinctly different from Halloween. It is celebrated in Mexico, Ecuador, Guatemala, and other areas in Central and South America populated with the Latino ethnic background. It demonstrates a strong sense of love and respect for ancestors. It celebrates the continuance of life, family relationships, community solidarity and even finds humor after death -- all positive concepts! This is one celebration that is all about tradition.
One of the many things I love about the Mexican culture are the vibrant colors. So deck out your tabletop in plates of different colors, layer a variety of patterns and add accent plates in the shape of a skull. Skulls and skeletons are common s of the holiday which is celebrated through the decor and masks.
Skull Plates, $9.00 from Caldwell's (2610 NE Village Ln. Seattle, WA; 206.522.7531)
Garnish Dessert Plates, $12, from Anthropologie (2520 N.E. University Village St., 120, Seattle, (206. 985. 2101;www.anthropologie.com)
The Day of the Dead is about sharing history but with a sense of humor and celebration. These "Vintage Tumblers" from Uma are the perfect glassware for this celebration. Each glass is decorated with a vintage style goblet design, they're the modern glasses with a vintage flair!
Uma Wine Glasses, $22, from UMA (314.241.9990; iloveuma.com)
Marigolds are the signatura flower of the Day of the Dead. It is believed that spirits return to the world by following a trail of marigold petals. Display bouquets of Marigolds in vases shaped like skulls. If you can't find a vase, create one. Visit your local costume and display store and pick up a plastic skull, cutting out a circle out of the top of the skull, creating a vase.
Realastic Skull Head, $8.75 from Display and Costume (11201 Roosevelt Way NE Seattle; WA, 206.362.4810; )
Skull Candleholders, $14.50 from Fireworks (210 1st Ave. South, Seattle, WA; ; 206.682.9697)
Black Zak Designs Cups from Target; (302 NE Northgate Way Seattle, WA; ; 206.494.0897)
Marigolds; $0.79 each or $4.99 for bouquet from Metropolitan Market (1908 Queen Anne Ave. N Seattle, WA, ; 206.284.2530)
Honoring Those We Love
Traditionally friends and relatives build alters to honor their loved ones. They decorate the alter with gifts including their favorite foods, beverages, flowers, photos, and memorabilia of their loved ones that have passed on. It encourages friends and family to celebrate memories and share funny stories.
The perfect activity for a Day of the Dead celebration is making and decorating sugar skulls. Sugar skulls are a traditional folk art from Southern Mexico used to celebrate Day of the Dead. Sugar skulls are colorfully decorated with icing, pieces of bright foil, colored sugars and usually bear the name of the loved one being honored. They are easy to make by children and adults, and if kept dry, they can last a year. If you are looking for a fast way to put these together stop by The Spanish Table and pick up a mix and a mold. If you are interested in making the molds with your friends and family here is the recipe from Halloweenrecipes.org:
Makes 8 skulls
1 TB powdered egg white
3/4 cup water
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup light corn syrup
8 cups powdered sugar
2 cups cornstarch
1/2 tsp powdered egg white
3 TB water
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 drops red food coloring
2 drops cinnamon extract
3 drops blue food coloring
2 drops peppermint extract
metal sequins for decorating eyes
Whisk powdered egg white and water together until foamy. Add vanilla extract and corn syrup. Whisk until blended. Add powdered sugar. With a spoon, and then by hand, mix until a firm paste forms. Dust a jelly roll pan with 1 cup of the cornstarch. Knead sugar paste in cornstarch for a few minutes until it becomes smooth and pliable. Roll the dough into a ball. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it until chilled. Begin by forming dough into round balls, each about the size of a small fist. Use more cornstarch to prevent sticking, if needed. Use your hands to sculpt the ball into a skull shape. Sculpt eye and nose hollows with your thumbs or a blunt knife.
To prepare the icing, whisk powdered egg white and water together until foamy. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Divide mixture into two small bowls. Add red food coloring and cinnamon extract to one and blue food coloring and peppermint extract to the other. Mix to blend the colors in each bowl. Fill two pastry bags with icing mixtures. Decorate skulls with icing. Allow objects to dry. Weather conditions affect drying times. Skulls may take anywhere from several hours to 48 hours to fully dry.
Meringue Powder, $8.99, and Skull Molds, $8.99 from The Spanish Table (1426 Western Ave. Seattle, WA; )
Frosting, $14.96 from Home Cake Decorating Supply Company (9514 Roosevelt Way NE Seattle, WA; 206.522.4300)
"Pan de Muerto" is a bread that is often shaped into skulls or round loaves with strips of dough rolled out and attached to resemble bones and it is the ideal takeaway. If you bake it in the shape of a traditional loaf then attach a skeleton charm with a card that shares the history of the Day of the Dead.
Pan de Muerto, from The Essential Baking Company, http://www.essentialbaking.com/