What a Bright Time

Santa, you’re so fly. Sleighin’ it, year after year.

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Day of the Dead 2016

Day of the Dead is a holiday celebrated in Mexico on November 1 & 2. It was at one time celebrated during the summer. Long ago it was changed to coincide with the Catholic holiday called All Soul’s & All Saint’s Day, and the indigenous people of Mexico have combined this with their own ancient beliefs of honoring their deceased loved ones.

They believe that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them.

Sugar art was brought to the New World by Italian missionaries in the 17th century. The first Church mention of sugar art was from Palermo at Easter time when little sugar lambs and angels were made to adorn the side altars in the Catholic Church.

Clay molded sugar figures of angels, sheep and sugar skulls go back to the Colonial Period 18th century. Sugar skulls represented a departed soul, had the name written on the forehead and was placed on the home ofrenda or gravestone to honor the return of a particular spirit. Sugar skull art reflects the folk art style of big happy smiles, colorful icing and sparkly tin and glittery adornments. Sugar skulls are labor intensive and made in very small batches in the homes of sugar skull makers (although now production is becoming commercialized).

My “sugar skulls” for 2016:

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Felix Dia de los Muertos

Mexico celebrates the Day of the Dead November 1 and 2.  It is a joyous celebration to honor deceased loved ones. Many people create altars that include marigold-like flowers, photos, candles, food and drinks.  Often families will stay up all night at the gravesite, telling funny stories about their ancestors, socializing, listening to songs from strolling musicians. My favorite celebratory ritual of this Mexican holiday is the exchange of the sugar skull.  Which brings me to my next set of cookies… Here are my designs to honor that occasion. Special thanks to IG fellow cookier Kelly, Minisugarrush, for the “bat inspiration”.

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I sketched out my ideas for the skull designs to begin the process.  To create the depth for the eyes in some of the designs, I painted a thin layer of the royal icing on the cookie base.  For the red bat skull, I blended red and white.

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A little bit closer for the details…

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The sugar skulls plated.  Isn’t this spider base for the pumpkin the coolest? My niece’s husband created several for me a few years back.  Cool to have a blacksmith in the family.  Lost art.

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