Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a tradition dating back to the Aztecs. The “people of the Sun” believed that death was just a continuation of life and Día de los Muertos is a day to honor your loved ones who have passed away.
The merging of both indigenous and Spanish culture has blossomed into the creative spirit, which can be found in almost every aspect of this tradition. As a Mexican folk artist and art teacher, this is my absolute favorite time of the year. I love everything about it—the cool night air that fall brings, the smell of copal (incense) burning, the sweet sound of rattling shells on the ankles of the Aztec dancers and the colorful sights of the altars, the sugar skulls, the face painting and of course the artwork that this day inspires. I just want to sit back and soak it all in before it’s over.
It’s very important for me to share this aspect of my culture with my children—I want them to understand this isn’t Mexican Halloween. My kids are equally excited about this day because they know mama will have a fun project for them to do in addition to the festivities at night.
Related Video: Create Your Own Día de los Muertos Costume
As I am consumed with creating new sugar skull designs to incorporate into art projects, my children excitedly wait to see what I will come up with. Last year I created a Día de los Muertos activity book and my kids loved it, gleefully printing out fresh coloring pages everyday.
This year I designed a new sugar skull just in time for Día de los Muertos! Its a whimsical little sugar skull, complete with flowers, hearts and decorative designs and the printable is yours, free—gratis—when you download it.
Some fun things to do with this printable:
- Color the sugar skull with markers, crayons, color pencils and oil pastels.
- Maybe you can bling them out and embellish with Crafty Chica chunky glitter, yarn, ribbons and rhinestones.
- You can fashion a few flowers from colored tissue paper and glue to the top of the sugar skull to make it extra fancy.
- String your sugar skulls onto a jute string and create your own banner.
- Découpage your sugar skull onto a pumpkin to decorate your home using Mod Podge.
- Cut out your mask, glue it on to a piece of colored construction paper and cut it out again. Heat glue to a popsicle stick and you’re ready to celebrate!
On November 2, we will be painting sugar skulls on our faces, we’ll put flowers in our hair and head downtown to our local Día de los Muertos celebration as a family. Learning about Día de los Muertos is a great way to understand Mexican culture. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to honor your deceased loved ones by creating something that is memorable and heartfelt.