Wordless Wednesday: Las Catrinas

In September, I went on a quest for some new decorations to add to my altar for Día de los Muertos. I headed to the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, where I also do most of my grocery shopping in the Mexican markets. The Tzintzuntzán gift shop at the museum never disappoints me and this time was no exception. I’ll be sharing more photos in a few days from the museum, which also has a Día de los Muertos exhibit running through December 16, but here’s a photo of the little Catrinas that I bought to place on my altar.

They’re modeled after Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada’s la calavera de la Catrina and stand about three inches tall, not including the little feather plume that sticks out of the hat.

Que lindas las Catrinas, no?

  • Do you have any unique decorations for Día de los Muertos? Tell me about them in the comments and where they came from.

Celebrating Día de los Muertos with friends: Mexican at Heart

Día de los Muertos is this week and as a special treat, I’ve asked some of my friends to send me photos and descriptions of their altars to share here on The Other Side of The Tortilla to show the variety of ways that people celebrate this holiday.

Today, I’m sharing the altar of my friend Jessica Seba from Mexican at Heart.

Altar for Día de los Muertos by Jessica Seba

What is your connection to Mexico that makes you participate in this tradition?
I love Dia de los Muertos and everything it represents, not to mention papel picado and cempasuchils are my some of my favorite Mexican things! I thought this year it would be good to make my first altar instead of Halloween decorations.

Who does your altar honor?
My altar is dedicated to my grandpa, who passed away earlier this year.

Any special ofrendas or items on your altar?
I put bars of Irish Spring soap on my altar because that scent has always reminded me of my grandpa. I happen to find Walmart selling the soap—which is not a normal shelf item in Mexico—so I grabbed a few boxes. I also put a donkey on there because my grandpa once told the family that if he were to be reincarnated into an animal after he died, he “would be an ass.” He was a real jokester. Other than that, it’s quite hard to find my grandpa’s favorite Polish foods here in Mexico so I didn’t put too much food.

Why do you make an altar for Día de los Muertos? How does it keep your connected to Mexican culture?
I made an altar because I thought it would be interesting to learn the significance behind what everything meant (the water, the colors, the levels, etc.). Mexico has been overtaken by Halloween celebrations in recent years, so I wanted to do something more traditional.

For more photos and a story about Jessica’s altar for Día de los Muertos, click here to visit Mexican at Heart.

Celebrating Día de los Muertos with friends: Muy Bueno Cookbook

Día de los Muertos is this week and as a special treat, I’ve asked some of my friends to send me photos and descriptions of their altars to share here on The Other Side of The Tortilla to show the variety of ways that people celebrate this holiday.

Today, I’m sharing the altar of my friend Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack from Muy Bueno Cookbook.

Día de los Muertos with Muy Bueno Cookbook

Muy Bueno Cookbook's altar for Día de los Muertos 2012. PHOTO/COURTESY OF MUY BUENO COOKBOOK

Where in Mexico are your family’s roots?
Our grandmother was born in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Who does your altar honor?
Our grandmother, Jesusita—the matriarch of our familia who inspired us.

Any special ofrendas or items on your altar?
The belief is that visiting souls may be hungry from their long journey and the food and drink is nourishment for their journey back. This year our altar included pan dulce (sweet bread), Mexican candies and veladoras (religious candles). I knew I needed to buy all these goodies to let grandma know I was thinking of her and to welcome her spirit.

Why do you make an altar for Día de los Muertos? How does it keep your connected to Mexican culture? And do you involve your kids to pass on the tradition?
It’s a perfect way to honor our grandmother. We are thrilled to educate our children about traditions that are part of our culture. We retell memories of our grandmother to our children and reminisce in the times we shared with her.

For more photos and a story about Yvette’s altar for Día de los Muertos and a recipe for marranitos, click here to visit Muy Bueno Cookbook.

Celebrating Día de los Muertos with friends: Nibbles and Feasts

Día de los Muertos is this week and as a special treat, I’ve asked some of my friends to send me photos and descriptions of their altars to share here on The Other Side of The Tortilla to show the variety of ways that people celebrate this holiday.

Today, I’m sharing the altar of my friend Ericka Sanchez from Nibbles and Feasts.

Altar for Día de los Muertos by Ericka Sanchez of Nibbles and Feasts

Altar for Día de los Muertos by Ericka Sanchez of Nibbles and Feasts. PHOTO/COURTESY OF ERICKA SANCHEZ

Where in Mexico are your family’s roots?
Ericka: Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico

A Día de los Muertos altar by Ericka Sanchez

Ericka's altar. PHOTO/COURTESY OF ERICKA SANCHEZ

Who does your altar honor? 
Ericka:
It honors the loved ones our family has lost throughout the years.

Any special ofrendas or items on your altar?
Ericka: Most of the items displayed on the altar are artwork we’ve collected from our trips to Mexico City, Guadalajara, Oaxaca and Torreon. From a paper-mache catrina to clay luchadores, we love bringing home something that we know will have a special place on our altar.

Why do you make an altar for Día de los Muertos? How does it keep your connected to Mexican culture? And do you involve your kids to pass on the tradition?
Ericka: We love the time we spend together building the altar, talking about the friends and family we are honoring, the items on display and what they symbolize culturally. This year is special because it is the first year my son is old enough help arrange the cempazuchitl (marigold) blooms throughout the display.

For more photos and a story about Ericka’s altar for Día de los Muertos, click here to visit Nibbles and Feasts.

Wordless Wednesday: Building my altar for Día de Los Muertos

Día de los Muertos is next week and we’ve begun setting up our altar at home. On Sunday, we started gathering our ofrendas and hung papel picado. It’s nowhere near finished yet, but here’s a sneak peek from a few days ago.

I’ll share more details about the items on the altar as well as who it honors next week.

Throwback Thursday: Memories from Mexico on an iPhone case!

It’s no secret that I’m addicted to Instagram. Therefore, it should come as no big surprise that I found a way to show off some of my favorite photos from The Other Side of The Tortilla, my travels in Mexico and other assorted Mexico-related things I’ve found here in Chicago. I’ve been loving the #ThrowbackThursday (or #tbt) hashtag where people post photo memories on Instagram and Twitter and I’ve been playing along when I remember on Thursdays, but I want to make it a more consistent thing.

While trying to figure out some more fun ways to use my Instagram feed, I was super excited to discover Casetagram, a service that lets you create a smartphone case with your Instagram photos. I created this Tortilla-themed phone case for my iPhone and I can’t wait for it to arrive! Some of the places I included photos of from travels to Mexico (from top to bottom): Diego Rivera’s studio in San Angel, a doorway in San Miguel de Allende, the bugambilias I fell in love with at Hacienda Galindo and last, but not least, El Ángel de la Independencia in Mexico City.

Then, of course, I also included some favorite foods, such as guacamole, tacos al pastor, flor de calabaza, buñuelos, conchas, pozole and molletes. I wished there were more spaces to put more of my favorite things and places, but I guess I might just have to make another one!

  • If you were going to make a case for your phone with Casetagram, what photos from Mexico or what Mexican foods would you include on yours? What places or things are so unforgettable to you that you’d want everyone to see?
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