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A Brief Look at: Día de los Muertos

It’s that time of the year when the living and the dead intermingle.

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, falls on November 1 and 2, and is a way to remember and keep alive the memory, and in doing so the spirit, of a deceased loved one. 

Families invite their loved ones back into their homes with altars. They bear gifts such as favorite foods, liquor, marigolds (their perfume leading souls back to the world of the living) and beautifully decorated sugar skulls.

People also paint their faces in the style of these happy skulls to create a positive outlook on death. Their face represents the living and the painted skull represents the afterlife. 

We constructed our own altar in remembrance of the lives we lost this year to violence. The concept of our altar is to celebrate and commemorate those who had lost their lives in the war between love and hate.

We collected the names and ages of individuals including police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty, people who lost their lives to systemic racism and police brutality, children who took their lives through suicide due to bullying, and gays and transgender people who lost their lives to hate crimes.

Our altar provides these souls with an assortment of candy, conchas and fruit, along with a chair to sit on.  

Jesus Mendoza, co-founder of Till Death Designs, explains further.

"The message is to express that Till Death Designs exists not just for furniture," he says, "but for culture, and the use of culture to build a world of love, awareness, integrity and change. After all, we all want a better tomorrow." 

This is a bit different to the traditional practice of recognizing ancestors through altars, but we decided this was an appropriate response to what the country has been going through in the last year. No soul is less than another, regardless of one's belief or circumstance. 

So on this celebration of connecting with the dead, we have decided to be socially conscious, using our cultural traditions to spread love and unity in a world of division and hate.