Thursday, November 1st, and Friday, November 2nd, mark Los Dias de los Muertos, the Mexican holiday of the Day of the Dead. The feast is an opportunity to celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed, and to welcome their spirits back into one’s life for another year. Traditionally celebrated with altars decorated with pictures and treasured items of the deceased, Day of the Dead also includes offerings of the favorite foods and drink of those who have passed.
Another staple of Day of the Dead festivities is the Sugar Skull, or Calavera de Azucar. The hardened confection (made for decoration, not eating) is decorated in honor of deceased loved ones (or for the living, and given as gifts).
At Short Street Cakes, from now through November 2nd, we will be making and selling blank sugar skulls for $5 each, and offering a table in the cake shop where families can gather and decorate the skulls with royal icing, bits of foil, and sequins.
I first learned how to make the skulls from Suzie Millions, and blogged about it here (there’s also some more info there about the origins of the holiday and similar celebrations in other parts of the world), that first year and since, a portion of proceeds from the sale of the sugar skulls go to COLA- The Coalición de Organizaciones Latino-Americanas, to support their efforts to advocate for immigrants’ rights in Western North Carolina.
This year we have also been able to open the festivities to more school and community groups- today a group from our community partner Hall Fletcher Elementary walked down to the Cake Shop to decorate sugar skulls and learn about Day of the Dead as a part of their Spanish studies.
Life is very precarious, and we all have many people and things to say goodbye to. Ritualizing that process, in community and in celebration, makes it a more gracious journey. I’m very grateful to this community for sharing this celebration with me.