My Favorite Tradition
For as long as I can remember, every October, my family has decorated our porch with pumpkins. Just like many other American families, the last week of the month was for carving jack-o-lanterns.
Most years, I adore this tradition. The thing I look forward to most about pumpkin carving is the smell of the candle burning inside of the finished jack-o-lantern. The actual carving is not my favorite part.
About 15 years ago, I added a new tradition for this time of year. I was living far away from my family in New Mexico, and I felt really homesick. I needed something that reminded me of home. I was teaching high school band at the time, so I decided to add a Mariachi unit. I ended the unit with a traditional sugar skull decorating party for my students.
That first sugar skull class I taught made me feel like I had come home! The brightly colored icing and smell of meringue seemed like the perfect way to celebrate and honor this special time of year. The more I studied the traditions and meanings surrounding Day of the Dead, the more I realized that I wanted to adopt this tradition and would probably decorate sugar skulls every October from that year on.
Now that we teach sugar skull craft parties, I still look forward to making the skulls and sharing this tradition every year. We love the way decorating skulls connects our guests and brings us memories of loved ones who have passed on.
I still carve jack-o-lanterns with my family, but if there ever comes a time that I have to choose between that and decorating sugar skulls, my choice is easy. I’d ditch the carving knife and slimy pumpkin seeds, because decorating sugar skulls is just so much sweeter!
If you want to share sugar skull decorating with your craft party students, check out our Sugar Skull Blueprint!