hispanic002 1200Day of the Dead - Día de los Muertos

Mexico's most important religious holiday is November 2nd, the Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos), All Souls´ Day. During this festival, entire families flock to cemeteries and churches with paper flowers, colorful candles and platters of food to offer prayer in solidarity between living and past relatives. On this day, it is believed past relatives return from their resting places to visit loved ones and friends. Origins of the holiday date back to Aztec festivals dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl who watches over the bones of the dead.

The festival is a blend of pre-Hispanic civilization beliefs. The pre-Hispanic peoples believed death to be a transition from one life to another level. The holiday covers a three-day period and is widely celebrated in Mexico, where it is a national holiday, and in other Latin countries.

Join the festivities, give your gourds and pumpkins a Latino flair and celebrate a happy and colorful occasion. Prepare for the happy, annual fiesta of Los Días de Muertos with carving printable skulls and more both whimsical and adapted from historic artifacts, painted faces and body tattoos.

Historians and scholars have traced the origins of the Día de los Muertos back hundreds of years to the Aztec festival for the goddess Mictecacihuatl. During pre-Hispanic days, human skulls were collected and kept as trophies to be ritualistically displayed to symbolize death and rebirth. How it came to be in the current festival form is a long and fascinating tale well worth researching.

Festival and carnival Latino Jack O-Lantern stencils are great child craft activities that will keep young children busy for hours, and provide endless decorating ideas for Halloween costume parties and games. With these stencils you can create any number of festival decorations from simple carved pumpkins to paper maché masks to shrink art necklaces and brooches to wear.

Death head masks are usually decorated with bright colors and fantastic designs. Calaveras are colorfully decorated sugar skulls that are made both to adorn altars and to be eaten on the Day of the Dead.

Calaca skulls and skeletons wear festive clothing with flowery hats decorated with marigold flowers and foliage and are usually shown, dancing, and playing musical instruments.

Skeletons color and cut out the skeleton parts and make marionettes to hang in the breeze on Halloween night. Paste onto cardboard or print on card stock. Make holes with a hole punch to string the parts together.