Dia de los Muertos Sugar Skulls

Often confused with Halloween, Dia de los Muertos is a rich tradition of its own.

The celebration is November 1 and 2, and it’s dedicated to remembering loved ones who have passed away.

NBC 5 met a couple, who are teaching people about the Day of the Dead tradition through art.

Maggie and James are using their home to make sugar skulls to honor the dead

“Dead shouldn’t scare us. It will happen to everybody,” said Maggie.

The Day of the Dead, Dia de los Muertos, is about celebrating those who’ve passed on.

“It’s very colorful. It’s very wonderful and it brings families together as they talk and reminisce about their loved ones that are now departed,” said Maggie.

Sugar skulls are decorated and used in different ways, “In an altar, it’s used to represent the person and normally we’d put the name of the person on it, or sometimes it’s just used for fun,” said Maggie.

They’re also used to teach people about this Mexican tradition.

“I had never heard Dia de los Muertos until I came to Texas,” said Maggie’s husband, James.

“I’m just a white guy from up north!” he joked.

He recalled the moment he was introduced to the sugar skulls that now consumes his house during Dia de los Muertos.

“My wife came to me and said ‘I want to make a calavera. What’s a calavera? It’s a sugar skull. Okay, what’s a sugar skull and why would we make one?'” asked James.

This project started when their son’s Spanish teacher asked for help educating her students about Dia de los Muertos, decorating sugar skulls was a perfect hands-on project for the kids.

“And I was like ‘sure!’ because growing up in Mexico, the day of the dead obviously was so big,” said Maggie.

That one class grew into Maggie giving demonstrations across DFW, where people decorate their own sugar skulls.

“I noticed that it was making people happy and curious,” said Maggie. “And people that had heard about it had never actually seen a sugar skull, so it was fun.”

For James, understanding this tradition also taught him a new way to deal with the pain of loss.

“You’d try to ignore it and go on with your life, but with the Dia de los Muertos, and with the making of the calaveras, it’s a way to embrace your loved ones that have passed on and it’s a way to celebrate their life rather than to mourn their death,” said James.

If you’re interested in celebrating the Day of the Dead, you can make an altar for your loved ones and place pictures, their favorite food or drinks on top of it.

Maggie says not to worry; whatever you do will be perfect because it represents the person that is no longer with us.

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