Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sugar Skulls & Day of The Dead

Day of The Dead or Día de los Muertos

I am sure you have heard of this special day celebrated by many throughout Mexico as well as other parts of Central America. Día de los Muertos is a day, or rather an evening, where the souls of the deceased are remembered. For many families in Mexico, this day is one of the most important holidays of the year. Here in the United States, it seems that remembering our loved ones, often involves a trip to the graveyard. In Mexico, for those who celebrate this day, it also involves a trip to the graveyard, but also much more.

On one night of the year, where the veil is supposedly the thinnest between the spirit world and our world, the souls of the deceased are allowed to "visit" earth again and enjoy some of their favorite things. You may happen to be remembering your deceased father who loved taking walks, loved  his wife dearly and adored drinking Coca-Cola. You might set up an ofrenda/altar of offerings in your home, outside your home on the patio or other area.  You would probably set up a photo of him taking a walk in nature and even put out a bottle of Coke out, complete with a straw. You may even have a photo of  your beautiful mother or some other remembrance of her. These were the things that completed the image of your father, these were things he loved... and this is how you would honor him. Leaving the photo out of your mother would allow your father's spirit to visit with your mother, he could possibly take a sip of his favorite drink and even take pause to admire the beauty, sweets and treats laid out for him. Many in Mexico spend much of their money to create these lavish altars/ofrendas. It is important to remember those who have past and bring forward the things in life that they appreciated.

Around the markets during the month of October, one would find candies in the shape of skeletons/esqueletos, sugar skulls/calaveras de azúcar, tiny little sugar coffins, pan de muertos, papel picado and an assortment of specialty items made just for this Holiday. In my home, we take great pride in creating Sugar Skulls. It is a really beautiful art form which involves mixing sugar, water and meringue powder to create these wonderful skulls that are then decorated  with royal icing.

papel picado
This is more of a photo essay on the "How To Make A Sugar Skull" rather than a written step by step document. It was such a beautiful process this year that involved my family and friends. If you have any creative itch at all, I encourage you to create these next year and put them out on your ofrenda, honoring those you love that are no longer with you. Enjoy the photos! Today is my birthday so this post is even more fun! Happy Birthday to all you Halloween Babies out there....Big love from Me! xoxo Megan

Cut out cardboard into 6"x8" rectangles
Ingredients you will need
Sugar waiting to be mixed
Papel Picado
Sugar mixed with Meringue Powder and Water... feels like wet sand
Your Skull Mold
Filling the Mold
Packing in the Sugar
Scraping off excess
Cleaning off extra sugar
Ready for flipping
Place Cardboard on mold
Ready, Set, Flip!
Carefully take off mold
Sugar Skull Factory
Skull Crazy!

T-Rex feeling the Sugar Itch
Molded sugar decorations for the skulls
Gel paste for coloring the royal icing
Tips for frosting
And the decorating begins..
My son hard at work
My daughter hard at work
Kiddos making their second skull
Sugar roses
Royal Frosting Bonanza
Feeling the creative urge
Mums the word

The skulls... drying.. The final project!

My Halloween Birthday Walk.. Heading to the woods for some healing!
xoxo Loads of Foodie Love -Megan


  1. Happy Birthday! What a great way to celebrate Halloween. I was just thinking that it involved too much focus on acquiring candy!
    I love this. My dad passed away 4 years ago, and sometimes I just want a chance to slow down and honor him. It might not be too late to make a little alter. Your sugar skulls are amazing!

  2. Happy Birthday, Megan! The sugar skulls are really great. Looks like our culture and tradition do have some similarity. We do honour our dearly departed by holding special prayers with their favourite food and burning paper made items such as the TV, cars, clothings, flowers, cigarettes and even paper 'money' and computers so that they can carry on enjoying what they love to do in the other world! This is a great way to involve the kids and hopefully they will carry on with this tradition with their own kids. I believe traditions like this does make one a more responsible and caring adult.

    Hope you had a great birthday walk!

  3. Happy birthday!!! Looks like you guys had a great time! Those skulls are so impressive! Hope you had a nice calm and enjoyable walk!

  4. Happy birthday! And omg! those skulls are beautiful. I love that you showed us the step by step pictures. It looks easier than I thought at the beginning of the post!

  5. Happy Birthday!!!
    It must have been a really fun session with the kids.
    BTW, what did you do with the skulls later?
    Eat them?

    Here, ants are everywhere and I don't think I can ever indulge in sugar moulding, but it seems so fun.

  6. Happy b'day! tasty looking skulls...loved the presentation.

  7. excellent work! I love your creativity! :D

  8. Looks load of fun, Happy Birthday!

    Yesterday 3 little girls dressed as witches came to the door Trick or Treating, I answered the door and said "now then which witch is which" they didn't understand. Innocence is a virtue!

  9. This is so intricate and vibrant! Well done.


    The day of the dead is celebrated November 1st! What a creative idea! Love the last photo!

  11. Happy Birthday!

    Such a great post! Your sugar skulls are so impressive. I love Day of the Dead -- the artwork is so vibrant and full of energy. I've never seen how the sugar skulls are made. Loved reading about it!

  12. Love to you Megan. Always enjoy watching your family and the fun you are having. You were thought of all day birthday girl! What a glorious holiday we had. And we did so much remembering. it was this time last year that we spent a beautiful Halloween at Hospice. That special spirit was for sure visiting - he loved candy! Thank you so for being you - love from all here to all there. Sally

  13. Happy Birthday, Megan! I knew about Day of the Dead, but I never knew about the sugar skulls. Yours are beautiful, and your kids really got involved, too. I learn so much blogging:)

  14. Happy Birthday Megan :-}}

    Love those sugar skulls!

  15. Happy Birthday,megan! Hope it was grand.Never thought I'd say this - but your skulls are just beautiful! I think it is a special Day of remembering. Italy does Day of the Dead" also but they make these hard-as-rock cookies that are as hard as skulls. Not quite as sweet!

  16. Happy Birthday, Megan!
    These sugar skulls are beautiful. You are extremely talented in decorating. I'm sure you do this professionally. The details are so perfect...need a lot of patience and steady hand for the small details. Lucky for you, you have all these traits!

  17. Happy birthday! Your sugar skulls came out beautifully! So intricate and creative. I am a big fan of sugar skulls and Day of the Dead art. I love how you decorated and how all of your family and friends were involved.

  18. Oh Megan, Happy Belated Birthday to you! I've been trying to get in here for so many times but failed. Finally, I got in but unable to view all the photos you put up there. However, I'm sure you had lots of fun. Hope you're having a wonderful day, dear.

  19. What lovely pictures :) thank for finding me so i can follow your blog :)

  20. those are so awesome! growing up in LA, they're everywhere and I've always wondered how they're made. very neat.

  21. Those are very nice, colourful-looking skulls:)!

  22. Megan, there is an award for you over on my blog :-}}

  23. Megan - Sorry I missed your birthday. We were in Tejas celebrating my father-in-laws Bday - another Halloweener! I love your sugar heads for Day of the Day! In fact, I love this post! Looks like you had a wonderful and fun Bday!


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