What is Day of the Dead?
Contrary to what you might expect, Los Dias de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is more than anything a celebration of life. Observers of Day of the Dead gather and participate in traditional celebrations as a way of honoring their late loved ones and remembering the best of their lives. The central idea of Day of the Dead is that for one night a year the souls of the departed return to the earth to reunite with their families. On November 1 children are able to return, and on November 2 adults can come back.
This holiday originated from Aztec cultural traditions honoring the dead in what is now Mexico and Central America. It has since been blended with elements of Western culture such as Halloween or the Christian tradition of All Saints Day. A typical celebration has many elements. From the Aztec tradition people bring gifts and offerings to their loved ones graves or alters to help them cross over to their final resting place. These include sweet breads and treats such as calaveras de azucar, or sugar skulls. From the Spanish the tradition of laying flowers and lighting candles to prepare the way to the underworld has been incorporated into the celebration. On alters, in parades, and lining the streets you will see bright orange marigolds and at night the city is illuminated with candle light. Parades and costume have been incorporated from the American tradition of Halloween. Day of the Dead is a rich and festive cultural celebration honoring life and respecting death. Learn more about the history of Dia de los Muertos here.
Partnering with artisans to share this tradition
This year has been themed Fair Trade Solidarity by the Fair Trade Federation. In our last post we discussed what solidarity means to us as a company. Here, we want to elaborate on how we stand in solidarity with our artisan partners by honoring their traditions and sharing their cultural heritage. Over the years artisans from Guatemala have sent us product ideas that center around this special holiday. It all started with our Sugar Skull Skeleton Mugs, a fan favorite. Again and again artisans send us new patterns and designs for these little calaveras (skulls) that highlight their creativity and the uniqueness of each departed soul. Since then we've started to carry earrings, masks, pillows, table runners, and tote bags that feature Day of the Dead themes.
All of these items allow us to share stories of the Guatemalan culture with people who may have never heard of this ancient heritage before. Our hope is that by learning of the richness of culture and story from around the world, that more shoppers will begin to value the hands that make their products. They will begin to expect stories from the places that their products are made. In this way we stand with artisans in fighting against sweatshop labor and unfair manufacturing conditions. We help to stand against poverty that is forced by the desire of modern Westerners to have cheap and pretty things. We inspire consumers to want items that are made well by artisans who love their work and their culture and who are treated fairly.
How you can celebrate at home
This year you can join in the celebration by taking 10% off any number of fair trade Day of the Dead products. We are discounting our whole Day of the Dead collection now - November 2 so that you can gear up for a cozy celebration with your family or your pod. This sale is in store only, so be sure to come down to the shop. We've got a number of options for shopping in person that we would love for you to check out. Place your order for curbside pickup over the phone, schedule private shopping hours any day of the week, and always wear a mask and disinfect your hands when you enter and exit. Find more information about our COVID hours and precautions here.