La Dio de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican festival that’s becoming more and more popular outside of Mexico. A number of people simply equate it with Halloween in the US and Europe since it falls about the same time. In fact, it has almost nothing in common with Halloween, except maybe a skull motif and the calendar dates. Much like Halloween had a complex evolution in European cultures, so too did Day of the Dead celebrations, which are a fusion of Spanish Catholic and Mesoamerican traditions and beliefs. Here are 9 facts about Day of the Dead that should shed some light on one of the most important annual celebrations in Mexico.
1. Sugar Skulls Are Actually Candy
Many of us hear the words “sugar skull” and think of women in elaborate face paint on Halloween. In all actuality, these costumes are just drawing inspiration from a long-standing tradition that’s pretty sweet: candy skulls that are actual sugar. These candies are made from sugar cane, elaborately decorated with vegetable dyes and often stamped with the names of the deceased to be used as offerings at altars and gravesites. Of course, the living also get in on the action and sugar skulls of all sizes, shapes and colors can be purchased at marketplaces. Competitions for the best and most creative designs are common. And before you ask, yes, they also come in chocolate.