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.
And we’ve prepared a station for decorating skulls with icing, sequins, and glitter. This is a skull I decorated for my sister, who passed eight years ago. She had a beautiful singing voice, and a great sense of humor, and and I put the skull on the altar in her honor.
The altar is set, and ready for offerings… in Mexican tradition the souls of the dead have to travel a long way to get back to this world, so they are weary, thirsty and hungry. Please bring offerings of food, drink, and treats that your loved ones who’ve passed enjoyed in this life (I need to go get some candy corn, because that was my friend Charlotte’s favorite Halloween treat, cigars for my Papa, Pabst Blue Ribbon for my Granddaddy, and some chocolate for my Mopsey) and pictures, flowers, and other things to beautify the space and honor our ancestors.
Blank sugar skulls are $5 each, and a portion of proceeds will benefit Defensa Comunitaria, a local grassroots immigrants rights organization. We will decorate the altar and sell skulls from noon to six on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. On Monday night, we are going to bring the contents of the altar to add to the one at Mayfels, where we will feast and dance with the dead, in costumes!
I feel so happy to be sharing this celebration with the community at the Cake Shop for the second year in a row, and, already feel how important repeating rituals and celebrations is for rooting ourselves in time and place.
First, there was Halloween. We had a rockin’ day at the cake shop, and Jenne, as per usual, went above and beyond by creating, of her own volition, these Halloween themed cupcakes:
They’re totally awesome, but even more awesome when you consider that, as an all-natural bakery, we never use food coloring, fondant, or shortening. It limits greatly the materials we have to work with when doing designs, but makes the designs we do so much more lovely (and tasty!)
Then there was trick-or-treating:
Jasper was a robot, Duncan was a daddy robot. Genius costume element: the plastic bucket as a helmet, which conveniently kept my little robot’s head dry all through the soggy, cold, night.
Then, there was Dia De Los Muertos.
Folks stopped by all day on Sunday to make sugar skulls, see the altar, and (hopefully) reflect on the meaning of a day to honor, remember, and visit with those who have passed. One (sorta country) fella came in, he had never heard of us, but had seen a show on the History Channel about the sugar skulls. He went looking in Asheville for where to find them, and found us. He bought some to take home with him, and he said that it reminded him of Decoration Day in church, and that that meant something to him. It got me thinking that we have these rituals in every culture, because we have a spiritual need for them.
We also raised an amazing 317 dollars for Latino Immigrant’s Rights Organization Defensa Comunitaria! Dias De Los Muertos: Activism + Cake + Celebration = Love.
Amy Kett, of Crankypants Knits, posted on her blog this picture of her memere on the altar:
She says: “Yesterday Henry and I went on down to Short Street Cakes and painted sugar skulls for Los Dias de los Muertos. Henry ate a triple chocolate ganache cupcake bigger than his head while I thought about my Memere and painted a sugar skull in her honor and put her picture up on the altar. If you are in Asheville…stop by and paint a skull, have some cake and blow my Memere a kiss.”
And, with the season of death coming to a close, and without further ado, We now officially declare the beginning of:
The Holiday Season!