Dia De Los Muertos - DAY OF THE DEAD - AMERICA'S NEWEST HOLIDAY

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Day of the Dead Altars - Fixin's & Candle Holders

Dia de los muertos ofrenda, Michoacan, Mexico - photo by A. Villalba

Ofrendas

Ofrendas are built inside the homes of the believers of Day of the Dead in Central and Southern Mexico. While there are regional differences in styles of the ofrendas due to income or custom, there are many altar mainstays to greet the weary spirits when they arrive. The children return on November first and the adults join their families on November 2.

Children's ofrendas are customized and decorated with delightful foods, candies and toys in miniature... miniature tamales, chocolates, tiny breads etc. Adult ofrendas feature the traditional candles, fruit, tamales, mole, mezcal, cempasuchil as well as photos, fashion magazines, cigars or folk art skeletons... and every ofrenda has pan de muerto and sugar skulls!

This impressive ofrenda in Michoacan uses aromatic marigolds, colored corn, and very unusually shaped pan de muerto breads, that represent female spirits of the dead.

Read our Ofrenda info & check list


NEW Santa Rosa Altar Candles

Mexico is famous for their hand made candles which flicker in the dark ornate churches throughout Mexico, glowing in romantic little cafes off cobble stone alley ways and illuminate the loving offerings made on altars for Day of the Dead.

The most exquisite of these candles are the Santa Rosa Altar candles which are expertly hand crafted in Guanajuato, Mexico. They are  traditionally made by pouring hundreds of layers of hot wax over the wick to create the desired size. The largest church candles might take 3 months of wax pouring to reach the desired size. The result is a rich, creamy color - thick, slow burning wicks and finished with a gold leaf stamp of a sugar skull. Watch our short video I took when I was visiting their workshop in March 2016.

Most candles available today are made in China from vats of melted soy mix that's squirted into molds or glasses. The factory machinery can make a candle in seconds. Absolutely no comparison in quality or the wonderful feeling these candles create in your home.

5 different premium Santa Rosa Candles embossed

Left to right

A5316 Santa Rosa Pillar Candle $52 each
6 inch diameter x 6 inches high

A5315 Santa Rosa Pillar Candle $38 each
3 inch diameter x 5 1/2 inches high

A5313 Santa Rosa Pillar Candle $5 each
2 inch diameter x 2 inches high

A5314 Santa Rosa Taper Candle $16 each
1 1/2 inch diameter x 7 1/2 inches high

A5314 Santa Rosa Pillar Candle $22 each
3 inch diameter x 3 inches high


Mexican artisans making handmade candles the same way they were made in the 1700s.

5 Rose Bouquet Altar Candle - variety of colors

NEW Wax Rose Bouquet Altar Candles

Rose bouquet altar candles are a Mexican art that is disappearing! These laborious, ingenious candles are made by hand in small villages around the country.

Once the main center pillar of the candle is made, the flowers are made by dipping different clay molds and little round pots into buckets of hot wax. After they are dipped 6 times, they are plunged into cold water to loosen the wax from the pot. While the wax is playable, the artist cuts petals into the half sphere shape. Several diameters of round petals are placed on top of one another and then stuck onto the main candle.

These bouquet candles will add a lot of interest on your ofrenda - and make wonderful gifts!

Rose Bouquet Altar Candle - colors left to right (above)

Daffodil & Scarlet with Cream taper
Tall A3158 - $46 each • Medium A3159 - $32 each

Magenta & Plum with Cream taper
Only Tall A3160 - $46 each

Pink & Scarlett with Cream taper
Only Tall A3161 - $46 each

Ivory with Cream taper
Tall A3162 - $46 each • Medium A3163 - $32 each

Spicy Orange & Magenta with Bone taper
Tall A3164 - $46 each • Medium A3165 - $32 each


Medium candles - 3 1/2 inches high x 2" wide
Tall candles - 7 inches high x 3" wide
These candles can be made extremely big and extraordinarily well detailed with colors and even gold leaf. In the Oaxacan village of Teotitlán del Valle, 4 foot candles are commissioned by the grooms family for the engagement procession to ask for the girl's hand in marriage. The more expensive and fancy the candles are, the more the groom looks "stable and well to do" and impresses the girl's father. The same candle makers can create special 6 foot candles for religious holidays to decorate the church.

NEW Decorated Glass Virgin of Guadalupe Candle Holder (with candle)

Beautifully hand-crafted anqd filled with a white candle. 5 inches tall x 3 inches wide. Mexico

(left) A5318T - Turquoise $42 each

(right) A5318M - Magenta $42 each

Black Cast Skull Candles

A splendid addition to any ofrenda. Candles are cast in molds from fine quality wax in San Miguel de Allende. The candles are then hand painted with intricate floral and vine patterns. This 17th-century tradition of candle painting originated in central Mexico from by church artists who decorated the "santuario" altar side stations of the cross. Many 16th - 18th-century churches had soap and candle production on-site which supplied outpost churches and even sold their handmade products in the marketplace.

3 3/4” high x 2 3/4" wide x 3 3/4" deep. Mexico

Turquoise - A3011 $44 each

Metallic Gold/Copper - A3021 $44 each

NEW Dark Wine - A3009 $44 each
(photo soon - deeper red than current photo)

These candles burn a center column for over 15 hours, and then collapse - but for 15 hours the skulls look great. Be sure to burn on a saucer.

3 Black Cast Skull Candles - with turquoise gold metallic, or Rosa Mexicana  designs.

Candle Holders

On home ofrendas, it's quite common to find candle holders burning handmade candles round the clock to welcome the returning spirits. The candle holders represent the style of pottery made in a village. The green glazed candle holders is traditional to Michoacan. The Castillo style candle holders are from Puebla. Below, the skeleton bands are from north of Mexico City.
Colorful Frida skeleton head altar with candle holder

NEW Frida with Rebozo Candle Holder

Unique Castillo style candle holder for 3 candles! Candle holders are behind Frida's head and hands. 8.5" tall x 7" wide x 3.5" deep. Colors and designs are unique. Mexico

A5251 $ 195 each

NEW Castillo Style Skeleton Frida Altar

Amazing piece! 6' tall x 6.5" wide x 4" deep. Candle holder is at the top, center, with a 3/8" diameter candle deposit. Her sugar skull earrings dangle. Colors and designs are unique. Mexico

A5250 $175 each

Castillo style pottery is beautiful, interesting and makes wonderful additions to any Day of the Dead collector... And yes, still painted with one-hair paint brushes. Learn more about Castillo style pottery and explore our entire Castillo collection.

Metepec Tree-of-Life Candelabras

Wonderful skeleton painted clay candle holders for your altar to celebrate Day of the Dead. Mexico.
6 different Metapec tree of life candalabrasTOP row: Skeleton Band & Muertos Ofrenda candelabras (out)
MIDDLE row: Solo musico (out), Skeleton Musico Trio (out) & Two Skeleton musicos.
BOTTOM row: 3 skull candelabras
Tree of Life candle holder with 3 skeletons

Tree Of Life Candelabra ~ 3 Skulls

1 candle cup. 5 1/2 " tall x 6 1/2" wide. Mexico

F2084 $24 each

Tree of Life candelabra with 2 skeleton musicians, 1 playing a guitar, the other a sax Tree of Life candelabra with 6 skeleton musicians with colorful hats and lots of green leaves and colorful cempasuchil

Tree Of Life Candelabra ~ Two Skeleton Musicos

3 candle cups. 8” tall x 10” wide. Mexico

F2260 $65 each

Tree Of Life Candelabra ~ Skeleton Band

5 candle cups, 6 musicians – drummers, cymbals, clarinet, tuba, & trumpet. 16” tall x 15” wide. Mexico

F2262 $185 each


Metal Tree of Life candle holder

Traditional floral design from Jalisco. 3 depositos with flowers, leaves & birds. 11” high x 11” wide x 5” deep. (right)

A4003 $75 each

metal tree of life for 3 candles

Metal Single Tree of Life candle holder

Same traditional floral design from Jalisco. 1 candle deposito with flowers & leaves. 10” high x 6” wide x 5” deep.

A4004 $48 each (out temporarily)

(Same style as 3-candle deposito. photo coming soon)

Talking Head Clay Skull Candleholder

Guadalupe Tin Shrine - recycled can art

Talking Clay Skull Candle Holder

Wired mouth moves.
 Approx 6” tall x 4” wide x 3” deep. Mexico

A2344 $38 each

Guadalupe Tin Shrine

The epitome of folk ark using recycled cans, hammered with intricate designs and painted with automotive paints all to delight the venerated Virgin. Comes with tea light. When lit the entire shrine shimmers. 4" x 7" x 2.5" deep. Mexico.

A1262 $30 each

See more Virgin of Guadalupe altar items

Clay Altar Skull blank next to tea light Clay Altar Skull Blank with tea light inside

Paint your own! Clay Altar Skull Blanks

I love these! These clay skulls are fired and can either be glazed & fired or painted with acrylic paints or glitter glue. Perfect to cover a tea light for your table, ofrenda or tombstone decor. Kids & adults will enjoy making these for gifts.
Well made by a family near San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. 3” tall x 3” wide x 3 1/2” deep, 1” hole, 3/8” deep eyes. (Candle not included.)

A2356 $15 each  |  A2356-12 $100 / dozen (12)   I  A2356-60 $450 / 5 dozen (60)

Thanks to Jeff S. for sharing his painted clay altar skulls - “Just wanted to say thanks for the great service on the clay skulls I ordered. They arrived on time and were a HUGE hit. Attached is a pic of some of the finished ones.”

See more craft supplies >>>


Milagros

Milagros are translated as "little miracles". These charms have been used for centuries in churches for the faithful to request miracles. The flaming heart is a popular symbol for expressing love and passion. Milagros are beautiful things to be cherished, to keep on your home altar.

Milagros are made by artisans from any Catholic country and we have a fine collection from Peru, Mexico and Germany. These days, a non-religious use of the milagros includes giving them as gifts to loved ones, decorative uses, ornaments and keepsakes.

On the left, our three largest milagros - 3.5" Pewter Flaming Heart milagro (left), new 6.5" tall Wall Milagro (center), 2.75" Lacy Pewter Flaming Heart (right)

Explore our Milagro Collection

Three large flaming heart milagros

Sugar Skull Wrapping Paper

How cool is this? The perfect paper to wrap gifts for sugar skull lovers! Also ideal to adorn your altar de muertos or use with Day of the Dead craft projects.

Each piece is 34' long x 19.5" wide. Sold in packs of 12 sheets, folded in thirds. Made in Mexico.

Purple Sugar Skull Gift Wrap (top)

A4048 $12 / 6 sheets

 

Black Sugar Skull Gift Wrap (bottom)

A4049 $12 / 6 sheets

Purple Day of the Dead gift wrap with colorul sugar skulls and marigold edging on the top and bottom
Black Day of the Dead gift wrap with colorul sugar skulls and marigold edging on the top and bottom

Heart Relicarios

In Latin America, a relicario is a small, finely detailed devotional pendant used by the Catholic Church to hold cherished relics and mementos of the saints. In the more common definition, a relicario is a special, beautiful container to hold something precious.

In a Catholic church, relicarios are seen on the side altars, pinned to a garment or held by an elegant statue of a saint. A piece of the cross Christ died on, a locket of hair from a saint or something extremely precious could be inside the precious, locket-like necklace.

In 1990, I made friends with the maintenance man from the Oaxacan cathedral who offered me a personal VIP tour from the basement to the winding steps of the tallest tower. He showed me a relicario that had a shriveled up finger of a Mexican saint inside. The side altars in big old churches in Mexico have all kinds of unique, gorgeous as well as humble relicarios. Some were sent from European churches, while others have been made of the finest materials and artistry the Church can attain - sterling silver from Guanajuato, carved shell from the Coast, carved coconut inlaid with mother of pearl shell or silver filigree.

Some relicarios find their way to Mexican antique shops, but these are usually from home altars or chapels. What makes a relicario different from a milagro is that there is a hidden place to put a little precious something inside. Usually they are larger than a locket for a photo, and can be as large as a pizza box if it's adorning a major saint in the front of a church.

Six Heart Reliquarios

We have found a workshop that is making nice reproductions of French relicarios of the mid to late 1800's. They are not Tiffany's fine jeweled style, but rather, more crude and artisanal; but they do authentically reproduce cut crystals, hammered initials, repoussé stretched & hammered pot metal as well as rough hand made hinges. If you are wanting a fine, high class, jewelry-like relicario, you wouldn't be pleased with these. But if you like the more humble, heart-felt relicarios to put special mementos in, these are fabulously perfect! I've had friends put love notes, lockets of hair of a baby or a love, fortune cookie fortunes, poems, prayers, ashes… any kind of precious thing that shouldn't be rattling around in your under ware drawer. These make lovely, thoughtful, keepsake gifts for someone special.

Two jeweled flaming heart shell reliquarios Open large shell reliquario open Shell Reliquario (large)

Shell Relicario (large)

(left) Jeweled Flaming Heart reliquario with shell and over 130 inlaid crystals. Opens from the back. 7.5” high x 4” wide x .75” deep. Ring hanger.

A3989 $90 each

Shell Relicario (medium)

(right) Jeweled Flaming Heart Reliquario with shell and over 100 inlaid rhinestones. Opens from the back. 5”h x 3”w x .75” d Ring hanger.

A3990 $72 each

Glitter metal flowers on a stem Box wrappted with a glitter metal flower Glitter metal leaf stem

Glitter Metal Flowers

On a stem. Silver filament wire is hand woven silvery wire over wire petal armature.

A3996 $8.50 per stem

Glitter Metal Leaves

On a stem. 11” tall.

A3995 $8.50 per stem

Metal Glitter flower close-up Box of candy wrappted with a glitter metal leaf Glitter leaves close-up

Vera Cruz man holding marigolds in a cemetary truck full of marigolds, Mexico

Silk Marigold Bouquets

Marigolds are the typical flower used for Day of the Dead but hard to find in the U.S. during November. These silk marigolds (or cempasuchil) may be used in vases or cut apart for your altar-making. Each bouquet has 9 flowers. Mix gold & orange for greatest realistic effect.

Silk Marigold Bouquet » 9 GOLD flowers, 13" tall
F2029 $9 each

Silk Marigold Bouquet » 9 ORANGE flowers, 13" tall
F2045 $9 each

Box of a Dozen Marigolds » 6 orange + 6 gold bouquets
F4042 $95 / dozen bouquets

Women in front of a mound of new orange and yellow silk marigolds at our warehouse
Gold with orange highlights silk marigold (cempasuchil) bouquet with 9 flowers papier mache sugar skull surrounded by gold and orange silk marigolds Orange with gold highlights silk marigold (cempasuchil) bouquet with 9 flowers

Gold Silk Marigold Bouquet

1 bouquet with 9 flowers
A papier mâché skull in bed of marigolds makes a striking centerpiece! Mix gold & orange for greatest realistic effect.

Orange Silk Marigold Bouquet

1 bouquet with 9 flowers

NEW Silk Marigold Garlands

Similar material to the Bouquets above, each Marigold Silk Garland is 6 feet long and has 12 flowers. Mix gold & orange for greatest realistic effect (shown below, right).
6-foot long Silk Marigold Garland with 12 gold flowers Two 6-foot long Silk Marigold Garlands with 12 gold & 12 orange flowers

F3502 Silk Marigold Garland, Gold - $14 each
1 garland with 12 flowers

F3503 Silk Marigold Garland, Orange - $14 each
photo above shows 1 Gold & 1 Orange Garland

Orange Cempasuchil Scattered Buds Yellow Cempasuchil Scattered Buds - closeup Yellow Cempasuchil Scattered Buds

NEW Orange Buds

Paper flowers, bag of 10 buds. Mexico

A5291 $2.50 bag

close-up

Cempasuchil Scattered Buds

NEW Yellow Buds

Paper flowers, bag of 10 buds

A5292 $2.50 per bag (out temporarily)

See all our NEW handmade Paper Flowers from Mexico

miniature day of the dead altar table traditional white copal incense Black copal / incense cup

Altar Table

This wood table exemplifies a feast fit for a muerto! It's heaped up with sugar skulls, candles, sugar cane, pan de muerto, cempasuchil, copal incense burner and a big pot of mole covered in sesame seeds. 4" high x 4" wide x 3" deep. Mexico
A1293 $24 each (temporarily out)

See more Skeleton Miniatures

Traditional Copal Incense

For ofrendas. 1 oz. of white Copal which is considered to be the highest quality, used by the Cathedral in Mexico City. Comes with 1 roll of fast-igniting charcoal disks.

A2153 $18 /set

Black Shiny Incense Burner

Shiny black rustically fired traditional clay copal incense burner from Puebla, Mexico. Approx 6 1/2" tall.

A2012 $20 each (out temporarily)

2 papier mache girl baby dolls, one small with yellow outfit and one mini with green outfit Realistic looking papier mache Pan de Muertos bread loaf

Baby Dolls

Exquisite miniature papier mache dolls with movable arms and legs in the style of the Celeya dolls of the Porfiriato (1870 – 1910). These are perfect for baby ofrendas celebrated on November 1. Celeya papier mache. Assorted colors. Mexico

(right) Small Baby Doll, 4" tall. A3014 $20 each

(left) Mini Baby Doll, 3" tall. A3015 $15 each

Papier Mâché Pan de Muerto

Ofrenda makers & museums have been waiting for ages for a realistic pan de muerto. Angela's design features the long bone style traditional to central Mexico. 14" diameter, 5 inches tall at center.

A5148 $22 each (out temporarily)


NEW Glossy Paloma Clay Skull Masks

Jalisco does two things very well - tequila and painted pottery!  These ceramic wall masks make a dynamic addition to any ofrenda - or just keep him up on the wall. 6.5" wide x 8" high x 2.5"deep. Mexico $28 each
Marigold and Magenta Glossy Paloma Clay Skull Mask Watermelon Red and Black & White  Glossy Paloma Clay Skull Mask
A5310-Mari - Marigold Mask(left)
A5310-Mage - Magenta Mask (right) $28 each
A5310-WMRed - Watermelon Red Mask (left)
A5310-BW - Black and White Mask (right) $28 each

Monarch Butterfly String

In Michoacan, Mexico, Day of the Dead is extra special because of the annual migration of the monarch butterflies. A true mystery of nature, these beautiful, big orange butterflies return to the villages & countryside during the week of Day of the Dead. Now, legend says that they are the spirits of returning loved ones.

When I found these hand-painted monarch garlands, I ignored my “anti-China” purchasing prejudice and had to get these. They are painted on a kind of silk flower material that looks like real butterfly wings. They will be great for our ofrendas makers who might even want to restring them horizontally, as they only come in vertical strings. They are very good quality and come in a nice box. Size is approx. 4 in wide. Garland extends 80” long on clear fishing line string. 9 butterflies.

about this Monarch Butterfly string - learn more »

A4034 $18 / string

9 Monarch butterflies perfect for ofrendas
FELIZ DIA DE MUERTOS banner string Letters from repurposed muertos banner showing different kids book cutouts

Re-purposed Muertos Banner

Made from hard cover children’s story books! Hard cardboard letters are strung together on black ribbon to hang in dining room, classroom or across an ofrenda. Uniquely ours. So durable that you can keep it up all year long. Each string extends approx. 6 feet, but you can adjust the spacing on the string. Handcrafted in Oregon.

A3007 $15 each


handmade mulit-color paper Mini Roses

Dime-size Mini Paper Roses

Handmade by 5 old ladies in Mexico City.... and furthermore, Angela's mother got drafted to assort the colors once they hit state side! She's done thousands! These adorable roses are bright & beautiful and can be used for wrapping napkins, wedding decorations, cards, cello bags, sugar skulls or decorating something special. Assorted colors-wire stems. A bunch is 12 roses.
Colors - We now have only bright colors available. The brights include red, bougainvillea and marigold orangy/yellow. No pastels.

F2052 $5 / bunch

Mini Bouquets

Great for decorating sugar skulls! Flower petals made from dyed wood shaving with wire stems. Thailand. Bright colors – 10 orange, 10 magenta & 10 red with 1.5” wire stems

A2360 $5 / pack of 30 flowers (out)

Mini bouquet with 10 each orange, magenta & red flowers made from dyed wood shavings
Flying skeleton angel with white feathered wings

Skeleton Angel

Flying Angel Skeleton

Our Exclusive Design

With white feather wings made by our resident papier mache artist. I have mine dangling over my computer! Finely painted skeleton with feathers, halo and string.

Very nice gift for the Day of the Dead collector who has everything! The detail and gold paint job on the skeleton body is beautiful. Makes a nice, unusual gift.

Folk art like this is traditionally hung on the children's "angelito" ofrendas on November 1. Approx 7" x 7" Made in Mexico

A1162 $46 each

Angel Wired Skeleton Miniature

November 1, the first day of Day of the Dead, is when dead children are celebrated. Families look forward to reuniting with their "angelitos" (little angels) and decorate the home ofrenda with colorful flowers, incense and special arrays of goodies - all in miniature! Little special candies in toy shapes, mini tamales that are not too spicy - in Oaxaca, mothers press chocolate into mini shapes to delight the spirits of their angelitos.

In markets all over Mexico, tiny little candles are wrapped in blue and pink shimmering paper to burn on the ofrendas. The Zapotec Indians construct miniature, child size altars (about 2 feet square) that sit at the foot of the big ofrenda in their living rooms. Great care and attention is expressed in every detail.

Perfect to celebrate the return of the angelitos, this clay winged angel has wire joints so you can move it around. 5” tall x 3” wide. Mexico

A2181 $28 each

colorful ceramic skull lantern for tea light or candle

Talavera Skull Lantern

The cutout eyes flicker & glow with the flame of tea lights which fit nicely inside the ceramic skull. Each one is hand painted with a unique design, but all look very similar to the photo. Bright assorted colors. Mexico
Large (7.5" high) A2257 $42 each
Medium (5.5" high) A2258 $30 each
(out temporarily)

medium talavera skull lantern
Large & medium talavera skull lanterns
Recycled tin heart frame recycled tin heart frame detail

close-up detail

Recycled Tin Heart Frame

Hammered frame topped with a flaming heart on top and scroll designs and hearts around the oval picture frame. You personalize with a photo of your muerto or old postcard - (We used a calendar girl in the photo. Tin heart frames come with a photo of the Virgin of Guadalupe). The tin shows pieces of Mexican juice cans! Oval 9 ”high x 8” wide. No two alike. Mexico

A1266 $85 each (out temporarily)

 

Day of the Dead Ofrendas

photos by MexicanSugarSkull.com
altar, Puebla Mexico

 

Ofrenda of our master papel picado artist (Puebla, Mexico)

 

Visit our collection his beautiful
hand-cut Papel Picado Banners

 

Ofrenda, Oaxaca Mexico ofrenda, forever cemetery
Día de Muertos public ofrenda, Oaxaca, Mexico Annual Hollywood Forever Cemetery Día de Los Muertos Celebration
day of the dead party, private home, los angeles, 2010. photo by s. kullmann
Day of the Dead celebration, private home, Los Angeles

free ♥ printable Day of the Dead info

free ♥ printable Ofrenda Info & Check List

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