Halloween: All Hallow’s Eve
Early on, Halloween was regarded as a night when wandering spirits of the dead were thought to prowl the streets. Over time, the interweaving of folklore swelled the legends into something even creepier with the addition of supernatural creatures who roamed with the spirits.
When choosing decorations, keep this spooky idea in mind. Set the mood with sinister music. Build tombstones to make a graveyard on your front lawn. Make it even creepier by jutting a skeleton hand or foot out from the dirt. Ghosts are scary; ghosts that move are scarier. Use a pulley system to move hanging ghosts between trees in your yard to spook trick-or-treaters. Drape spider webs over bushes and trees to give your house a haunted feel. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, add some boards over windows to make the house look condemned.
Inside, small touches will bring out the sinister feel of Halloween. Use candelabras to burn candles. Add black cats and ravens to your shelves. Place a witch’s cauldron in your kitchen. Of, if you want to stick to basics, pumpkins are classic. Place little ones on counters and as centerpieces on tables.
Day of the Dead: All Saints Day and All Souls Day
Day of the Dead takes a much different perspective on death. It’s not a somber, bone-chilling event, but rather a time to reconnect with deceased friends, family members, and ancestors in a festive spirit of remembrance and celebration. It’s a recognition of the inevitable cycle of life with a focus on humor and empowerment.
Capture the essence of the holiday by creating an altar in your home for friends or relatives who have passed away. Decorate it with a variety of items to welcome spirits into the home. Incorporate orange and yellow marigolds, the flowers of the dead. You can use fresh flowers or create them yourself using multicolored tissue and pipe cleaner. Display calaveras, doll-like figures that humorously represent the hobbies, character, and interests of a person who has passed on, to ensure spirits will visit the right home.
Skulls and skeletons are an important part of the tradition as they represent the continuation of life and its cyclical turns. This originated with the Aztecs, who used to keep skulls as trophies and display them during the rituals. Make or buy calacas, wooden skull masks, to wear while you dance in honor of the dead. Cut your own skeleton garland to drape along your walls. And don’t forget sugar skulls! You can easily make your own with a mold, sugar, and meringue powder.
Day of the Dead celebrates rebirth and renewal, and this is exemplified with bright, flashy colors with a focus on food and family. Pan de muertos, bread of the dead, is a bun with bone-shaped decorations on top that you can place out the night before for spirits. The family can then partake in this and any other treats when day breaks. If you celebrate both holidays, you can blend themes together to develop your own unique decorations that will be meaningful for your family. Place calaveras in your front-lawn graveyard. Pair spiders with the bright colors of Day of the Dead. As with any decorating venture, the important thing is to make it your own and have fun doing it!