Design Idea B636
by Leslie McLane, Content Development Group, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

If you aren't familiar with Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), there could be some confusion. The trends inspired by this holiday may seem macabre, but they actually represent a celebration of life. Dia de los Muertos jewelry continues to be a hot-ticket item, so don't let yourself miss out on the fun.

Flower Beads and Components

Skull Beads
Celebrated on November 1st and 2nd as a two-day festival, Dia de los Muertos is most strongly associated with Mexico. These days are also celebrated throughout Latin America and anywhere with a large Latino population including cities in the USA, such as Los Angeles, California. Because of its close date to Halloween, many people assume it has a similar origin, when in fact the two holidays have nothing in common. Halloween was originally a Northern European tradition while Dia de los Muertos has religious roots with a combination of indigenous tradition and Catholicism brought over with the conquistadors.

Dia de los Muertos is a celebration of life. It is recognition of death as being a part of life, just as birth, childhood and growing up are. It is a holiday in honor of those who have passed on and the happiness they brought in life. According to tradition, the deceased would be offended by grieving and sadness, so festivities to honor them bring laughter and joy.

Graves of loved ones are cleaned and decorated in preparation. Adult graves receive orange marigolds while children's graves are adorned in white orchids. Along with flowers, small personal altars called ofrendas are placed in the home then at the grave. These are full of candles, photos, food, drink and personal mementos of the person being remembered.

Skull Pendants, Drops, Focals and Charms

Dia de los Muertos is a bittersweet celebration, but the tone is anything but somber as far as color schemes. Brightly decorated calaveras de azucar, known as sugar skulls, are sweet treats eaten or left in the ofrendas. These folk art skulls have big smiles, colorful icing and glittery embellishments. Other tasty treats include pan de muertos (bread of the dead), spun-sugar mariachi musicians with gleeful expressions and colorful candy coffins. People wear elaborate and beautiful masks or paint their faces to resemble calacas (skeletons) and calaveras (skulls). Mariachi bands strike up music for fun and dancing to welcome the spirits of those who have passed. Family members spend the evening next to the ofrendas of their departed loved ones reminiscing, playing cards, listening to music and sharing stories. Not all areas have these elaborate parties as some have a larger focus on cleaning the graves then going to Mass.

This culturally rich and beautifully sentimental celebration is a tribute to life and those who have passed from this world. Don't be afraid to offer smiling skulls, bright flowers and other Dia de los Muertos staples in jewelry designs or retail offerings. You might just find yourself enjoying your own little fiesta.

Design with ...
Dia De Los Muertos: Behind the Jewelry Trend

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