When the boys get older and can better understand the significance of Day of the Dead, we plan to make an actual "ofrenda" in our house to honor the memory of our loved ones that have passed away. This year we will simply take out old photographs and talk to the boys about our grandmothers and light a candle in rememberance. We have also put up decorations around the house that are Day of the Dead related along side our Halloween decorations. We are truly a bicultural family. :)
Skulls and skeletons are a very important symbol of Day of the Dead. Beside the fact that they obviously represent death, they are also shown smiling or doing day to day activities (like riding bicycles or playing a guitar. In this way, they are showing that death is not something to be feared but it is simply part of life. I drew some skulls from looking at different pictures of the internet and D and I painted them with water colors.
Cempasuchil or marigolds are an important symbol of Day of the Dead. The bright colors of these flowers and the powerful scent are supposed to help lead the spirits of your deceased loved ones to your home. As luck would have it, I have an entire garden full of marigolds this year so D and I glued them to a piece of paper that I cut out in the shape of a cross. Many of the people who celebrate Day of the Dead are Catholic. Most "ofrendas" include religious symbols such as crosses.
Finally we made and decorated with "papel picado" or cut paper. You have probably seen these at a Cinco de Mayo or Christmas celebration or even at a Mexican restaurant. They are a very common way to decorate in Mexico. For Day of the Dead, the images cut of the paper are in the shape of skulls or skeletons.
We also made our own simple form of "papel picado" made of a tissue paper. You can find the instructions to make them here. I forgot to take a picture of D making them. :( Basically you fold a piece of tissue paper like you are going to make a snowflake. Cut out little triangles and other shapes in the folded paper. When you unfold it, you have a design. String them together and hang them on the wall.
Here is a wall in our kitchen decorated for Day of the Dead.
I hoping that you are enjoying learning about Day of the Dead. If you make any of these projects or have any ideas of other projects that we can do, please let me know.