“We remember our ancestors because it is an easy thing to forget: that we are not the first to suffer, rebel, fight, love, and die.”
~ Alice Walker
This October I will honor my ancestors with others.
I recently moved into a co-housing community. There are 36 living units with 106 ways of doing things. Sometimes it is challenging to get anything done. But, we all agree that honoring our ancestors is an important activity.
So, we will celebrate Dia de los Muertos together on November 1, 2018.
Creating a ceremony that everyone can participate in takes time and energy. We have established a schedule to prepare a community Ofrenda, ancestor altar. Throughout the month of October, we will create the symbolic feast for our ancestors so that they will feel welcomed in our community.
On October 7 we made make sugar skulls and paper marigold flowers. The best source for materials and tips for making sugar skulls is the Mexican Sugar Skull website. They are not hard to make but you need molds, sugar, CK meringue powder, and water. I learned that you should not make sugar skulls on a rainy day. Who knew? Sugar skulls are made for celebrated ancestors. Their name will be written on a skull with icing later in the month.
Colorful flowers are essential on an ancestor altar. We imported Serafina, a young member of our community, to demonstrate how to make paper marigolds. She could make three flowers to my one. If you don’t have a 10-year old to show you the way, watch “How to make a Mexican paper flower for Day of the Dead” on YouTube. We chose yellow as our color for our central altar wreath. Often arches adorned with orange or yellow flowers. Folks will bring live flowers to the ofrenda when we set it up. Papel picados are tissue paper flags that are also traditional decorations for an ancestor altar. We ordered ours from the Mexican Sugar Skull folks. Again, YouTube is a wonderful resource for making these decorations at home.
Our community schedule of events for our ancestor celebration is:
October 21 Decorate sugar skulls
October 27 Set up the Ofrenda, Ancestor Altar
October 28 Bake and decorate skull cookies, paint faces & watch Coco
November 1 Ancestor Ceremony – Dia de los Muertos
Stay tuned. I will write about each of our endeavors to let you know how it all turns out.
Meanwhile, get creative. Step into ceremony with your ancestors.