Day of the Dead masks for Halloween? Humm…Every October 1, my sister-in-law gets really excited because it’s finally October and therefore socially acceptable to begin decorating for her favorite holiday, Halloween.
She’s such a creative person, I can’t help but wonder what might happen if she decided to celebrate All Saint’s Day and All Hallow’s Eve Mexican-style with Day of the Dead masks, candy skulls, ofrenda altars, papel picado, and mounds of fresh marigolds.
While Halloween may have a greater variety of decoration themes, el día de los muertos definitely offers more chances for creativity. Unlike Halloween decorations, which are typically store-bought and reused from year to year, decorations for the Day of the Dead are more often handmade and we only re-use a few specific types of decorations like catrinas or Calaveras.
Other decorations, like marigold flowers, paper banners, and sugar skulls, for example, are left out in the cemeteries or on outdoor altars after the holiday is over, where they slowly drift away in the wind and melt in the rain until nothing is left.
This helps reinforce one of the primary messages of the holiday: life is short and everyone/everything passes away. The need to make new decorations for the Day of the Dead each year also gives families a chance to sit down together and remember loved ones that have passed away.
Besides setting up the altar with the different types of ofrendas or food offerings for the spirits of the dead to eat, the family also must make sugar skulls with the dead relatives’ names on them, to help the spirits find the right altar.
Most people dress up like a skeleton, which is the most popular symbol of the Day of the Dead, but dressing as the devil is also common. Either way, the mask has a specific function and it is to help scare the spirits of the dead away from their altars at the end of the holiday.
How Are Day of The Dead Masks?
Among the more optional Day of the Dead crafts is making masks máscaras del día de los muertos for the living to wear. Many communities have parties with music and costumed dancing on the Day of the Dead.
Day of the Dead masks are traditionally handmade out of wood or paper-mache, but nowadays you can also buy premade masks that might be latex or paper.
Some people think that the move towards premade masks shows that this part of the Day of the Dead is becoming more commercial, like the American Halloween.
Day of the Dead maybe becoming more commercial hoverer, this doesn’t apply to the spirit of the holiday. Unlike American Halloween, which seems to be about death and darkness, Mexican Day of the Dead is really about celebrating family.
During the holiday people honor their dead relatives in an effort to stay connected to them, and to understand that while death comes for everyone eventually, you should never fear it. We could all learn a lot from this attitude of Mexican Day of the Dead!