Culture

Día De Los Muertos Is Here And Sugar Skulls Are Everywhere. Here Is Their Spanish History In Mesoamerica

Day of the Dead without sugar skulls is like Halloween without candy, or Saint Patrick’s Day without 4 leaf clovers, they go hand in hand and no celebration of the dead would be complete without them. Day of the Dead is a celebration with many symbols and traditions, and ‘Calaveritas de azúcar’ are some of the most famous symbols of the celebration. However, do you really know what they mean? What they represent? And how they originated? Let’s find out.

Día de los Muertos is celebrated throughout Latin America, and traditions vary from region to region, but one symbol remains constant —the calaveritas. 

Credit: alexiskbarron / Instagram

Día de los Muertos is a joyful, colorful celebration in honor of death and those loved ones who have passed. There isn’t a single definition of Day of The Dead given that in every region of Mexico and other countries of Latin America, it’s celebrated differently. Certain symbols remain present in many of the cultures that celebrate it, and one of those is the now world-famous ‘calaverita’.

Skulls and skeletons are probably the most identifiable things about Día de los Muertos. These two symbols are indeed a big part of the holiday, and ‘calaveritas de azucar’ have become the everyday trinket you find in street stalls and ofrendas across Mexico during the whole month of October, leading up to Nov. 1 and 2 when the actual celebration takes place.

Sugar skulls have become a staple of Día de los Muertos, whether covered in glitter or decorated with colorful icing, they’re everywhere this time of year.

Credit: alexiskbarron / Instagram

Sugar skulls are always present in Day of The Dead ofrendas, often made of white or pink sugar, and decorated with colorful designs, they usually have a person’s name written on a ribbon across their forehead. They are meant to symbolize a departed loved one, hence the name —as well as other many souls who have left this world and will be wandering around in the land of the living on the first two days of November.  Sugar skulls can be given as gifts to both the living and the dead.

For ancient Aztecs and other Mesoamerican cultures, skulls had a very important meaning.

Credit: _cecyreynoso_ / Instagram

Skulls were an important symbol in Mesoamerican culture, way back in pre-hispanic time. Mesoamerican civilizations depicted bones and skulls in many ways, one of the most important ones was the ‘Tzompantli’, a wooden rack in which the skulls of war prisoners or human sacrifices were displayed. 

These civilizations believed in life after death, and so these skulls were an offering to the god of the underworld, Mictlantecuhtli, who would assure safe passage into the land he ruled. The Tzompantli could also be an altar illustrating this journey from the terrestrial life into the spiritual one, and it’s not uncommon to find sugar skulls that are decorated and colored with Mictlantecuhtli’s face.

The ancient tradition changed after the arrival of the Spanish and the fall of Mesoamerican cultures.

Credit: @dimefred / Twitter

With the arrival of Spanish conquistadores and the enforcement of the Catholic religion upon indigenous peoples, these traditions were deemed ‘heresy’ and were suppressed, or lost —and yet, part of them was kept alive in the shape of the skull, turned into a sweet confection that can be placed on altars as part of our offerings to the deceased during the Catholic celebration of All Saints Day.

Day of the Dead became a ‘mestizo’ celebration devoted to worshipping God and the afterlife —mixing the Spanish Catholic faith, with what was left of Mesoamerican culture and religion. 

Credit: alexiskbarron / Instagram

Día de los Muertos became a typically Latin American custom that combines indigenous Aztec ritual with Catholicism, brought to the region by Spanish conquistadores. Prior to Spanish colonization in the 16th century, the celebration took place at the beginning of summer. Día de los Muertos is celebrated on All Saints Day and All Souls Day, minor holidays in the Catholic calendar as enforced by the Spanish.

Sugar skulls originated after the Spanish introduced confectionary into Mexico.

Credit: ministandup / Instagram

While the tradition of honoring the dead already existed in Mexico, the Spaniards brought about new learnings and customs and, with that, the idea of molding decorations from sugar was widely popular and easily available. Mexico was rich in sugar at the time, and it was very accessible, even to indigenous or mestizo people with little money, so it was a natural choice. Once they learned that they could make these skull molds with just sugar and water, the idea of the sugar skull re-gained popularity and grew to be an important symbol of the day.

‘Calaveritas de azúcar’ are made of sugar, water and lemon —and other ingredients to add flavor or color.

Credit: jj_pho / Instagram

The paste used to make them is called alfeñique, and it’s a mixture of sugar, hot water, and lemon, along with other ingredients that create a moldable mass akin to caramel. This paste allows for artisans to mold it into the shape of a skull to later decorate it for display.

There are many iterations of the classic sugar skulls, some are made of chocolate or ‘amaranto’ -another Mesoamerican treasure.

Credit: alexiskbarron / Instagram

While the sweet skulls are found all over Mexico, some states prefer to make these confections with other ingredients, such as almonds, honey (and covered with peanuts) or amaranth —a staple in Mesoamerica for thousands of years. The reason they come in different sizes, besides decoration purposes, is because small skulls are usually meant to represent children, while the bigger skulls represent adults and elders.

Today, many different versions of the sugar skull exist. There are not only different sizes but also coffins and the skulls made out of chocolate, amaranth and almonds are delicious! But the meaning behind the calaverita remains the same, a commemoration of the person you are honoring whether dead or alive.

READ: These Día De Los Muertos Inspired Tattoos Will Make You Want To Get Inked Right Away

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

From TV-less Weekdays To Cereal Bowls, People Are Sharing The Strangest House Rules

Culture

From TV-less Weekdays To Cereal Bowls, People Are Sharing The Strangest House Rules

James Leynse / Getty

If you’ve ever spent the night at someone else’s home, you know that there are people in the world who have house rules that can be very different from your own. From rules about drinking all of your milk cereal to not raising the volume of the television to a hearable level, different households have them all. Now, some of these crazy house rules are being shared in the comments section of an AskReddit. Not only are some of the stories and rules shared wild, some are also even a little sickening.

Check them out below!

“I had a friend who instead of washing the dishes after a meal just put them straight back in the cupboard. I thought his parents would freak out but it turns out it was just something they did in their house. Whenever I went over I always made sure to eat beforehand.” Reddit User

“Family who babysat me when I was young had a rule of “no drinking during meals” and I don’t just mean soda, juice or milk, no water until your meal is done. This was insane to me because we would be called in to supper/lunch after playing outside in the summer and weren’t allowed to drink anything until we sat down and finished our plates. Also, this rule didn’t apply to the father of the family who would often drink beer during meals.

My great-aunt had a parlor room in which all the furniture was covered in plastic and never used, it also had a plastic walkway going through the middle (just a strip of plastic cover) which was the only path you could walk on (she would flip out if you touched carpet).” –Random_White_Guy

“I wasn’t allowed to put extra salt on my food, had to be in bed by 8pm (all the way through middle school), and had to ride my bike to school everyday even though my best friends parents offered to take me.” –willwhit87

“No fighting over the heel of the bread. The father once off hand told his oldest children that the heel of a loaf of bread was the best and made them want it instead of the regular pieces. By the time there were 4 kids sometimes fist fights would break out over the heels. Loaves had been opened on both sides, or loaves were a mess because someone reached through the sack and pulled the back heel out. For a while there was a turn system where the heels were promised to a child for each loaf, but that fell apart when one went to summer camp and lost their turn. One time my friend wasted an afternoon waiting for his mother to come home with a fresh loaf of bread instead of going out and playing. I witnessed fist fights over the bread most people throw away.” –DarrenEdwards

“In college I had a friend that lived with his grandparents when he went to school. Before they’d let him leave the house his grandmother would say ‘nothing good happens after midnight’ and he would have to repeat it. If I was there, I would also have to repeat the phrase.” –iownalaptop

“I slept over a friends house in grade school one time. He prepared us a bowl of cereal the next morning for breakfast. Not thinking ANYTHING of my behavior, I didn’t finish the milk. I just never used to. I don’t know.

He was like “You uh…gonna finish that?”

“Uhhh oh…I uh…I don’t think so? Does that matter?”

He panicked. Absolutely panicked. I think he put it down the toilet before his parents came back into the room.

I don’t know what the rule was, exactly, but FINISH YOUR MILK OR DIE would be my guess based on his reaction. I still feel bad about it. I was like 8 and didn’t think.” –soomuchcoffee

“When I was a kid. I spent the night at one of my friends house. And you were allowed to drink a soda like sprite before bed. But you had to stir it till all the carbonation was gone.. Don’t ask me why…” –newvictim

“I had a friend in middle school, and his dad worked for Pepsi. No one was allowed to bring any Coke products into the house. The first time I went there his mom told me I could not come in the house because I had a Dr. Pepper. I thought she was joking and tried to walk in, but stopped me and said that if I don’t throw that in the garbage outside that I would have to leave. They were fucking serious about that shit.” – SlowRunner

“During college years, I used to visit my friend during summer months at his parents’ house, where he lived at that time. They had two odd “house rules” I’ll never forget:

  1. We couldn’t open any window in the house (even the bathroom window) – ever! Even if it was far cooler outside than inside during the summer.
  2. We weren’t allowed to close our bedroom doors at night, so that his parents’ cat could have free access to all rooms at all times. (This made it difficult to sleep, without a breath of air from the windows, and the cat walking over us in bed while trying to sleep.)” –Back2Bach

“I knew this family that would share the same bathwater as a means to cut down on their water bill. So when one person took a bath, they ALL took a bath that day. The waiting list was about 4-5 people deep. From what I understand, a lot of families do this, however, I just couldn’t see myself washing off in someone else’s soapy leftovers =( If that were the case, I got first dibs on getting in the bathtub first lol”- __femme_fatale__

“My ex’s family would throw all their left over food over their balconey instead of putting in the trash can. I asked them why they did that, they replied it keeps bugs away……..and didnt think rotted food right outside their door would bring bugs.” –PimemtoCheese

“I had a friend whose mom required her to sit on the floor. Never a chair, couch, bed, or other piece of furniture. I went to her house once and sat down on her bed and she flipped out, made me get off it and spent several minutes smoothing the sheets to make it look flat again. I think her mom thought “kids are dirty” but the rule was in place even after bathing and wearing clean.” –knitasha

“Went over to a school-mates’s house for dinner when I was in elementary school…his mom cut everyone’s good into little tiny bites before giving you the plate and only let us eat with a spoon… Her oldest daughter apparently choked on something once when she was a teenager and it became a rule…even on hamburger and hotdog night.” –GRZMNKY

“I was doing a project with a classmate at her house and on our way to her house we stopped at a store and picked up some snacks. We did our schoolwork and then just kind of played and messed around while eating those snacks. Then her mom came home and lost her absolute shit about the snacks. It wasn’t so much that we had eaten them, it was because the snacks had crumbs that had contaminated their otherwise purified home.

My friend had to stop everything and vacuum the entire house to get every crumb of snack, then take the nearly empty vacuum bag, the empty snack bags, and the half-empty but “contaminated” bag of kitchen trash outside and ask one of the neighbors if she could put it in their garbage bin because not a crumb of that kind of food was allowed on the property in any form after sunset. My mom picked me up and as I was leaving they were doing some additional purification ritual and my friend was praying for forgiveness for having potentially defiled their home.

Turns out they were 7th Day Adventist and it was against their code or whatever to have leavened foods in their house/property during a certain period of time? I don’t remember the exact details, but I remember it was a pretty big thing about how every crumb had to be removed from the property ASAP.” – alexa-488

“My neighborhood friend and I would hang out almost every day of the summer. We would go out exploring in the woods with a bunch of our friends and would usually come back all muddy and tired. My friend was very nice and would offer me water and food. His parents would take those away from me if they saw me with them saying they were only for their children. He was always allowed to eat at our house yet I’d have to walk back if they started having any type of meal. The worst though was his next door neighbor who had a daughter our age and when we were hanging out we all got muddy (we were 10) the girls mom proceeded to take her daughter and my friend into her house to clean them up and told me I wasn’t allowed to enter and that I could use the hose. Some people just know how to ruin a kid’s self esteem.” –boomsloth

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Yes, Someone Created An Actual Honest To God 108-Foot Vulva Statue In Brazil

Fierce

Yes, Someone Created An Actual Honest To God 108-Foot Vulva Statue In Brazil

BUDA MENDES / GETTY IMAGES

There’s no denying the fact that the female form, and it’s bits, in particular, have inspired artwork the world over. Tarsila do Amaral was inspired by it. Frida Kahlo and artists like Zilia Sánchez and Marta Minujín too. Women’s bodies are inspired and so they inspire. Still, a recent unveiling of vulva artwork has become so controversial and made people so besides themselves that it seems many have forgotten these truths about our bodies.

Over the weekend, Brazilian visual artist Juliana Notari revealed her latest sculptureDiva, on a hillside at Usina del Arte. The art park is located in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco and is described by Notari as “a massive vulva / wound excavation.”

The massive sculpture created on the hillside located in northeastern Brazil features a bright pink vulva and has fueled what is being described as a cultural war.

Notari created Diva, a colorful 108-foot concrete and resin sculpture on the site of a former sugar mill. The mill was converted into an open-air museum in Pernambuco state. Last week, when Notari debuted the installation she revealed it was meant to depict both a vulva and a wound while questioning the relationship between nature and culture in a “phallocentric and anthropocentric society.”

“These issues have become increasingly urgent today,” Notari wrote in a post shared to her Facebook page which was shared alongside a series of photos of the sculpture. According to NBC, it took a team of 20 artisans 11 months to build the entire concept.

No surprise, the piece of art sparked a wave of controversy on social media, with critics and supports debating its message and significance.

Over 25,000 users have commented on Notari’s Facebook post so far including leftists and conservatives. On the far-right, supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro have also been vocal about their views of the product.

“With all due respect, I did not like it. Imagine me walking with my young daughters in this park and them asking … Daddy, what is this? What will I answer?” one user wrote in the Facebook section of the post.

“With all due respect, you can teach your daughters not to be ashamed of their own genitals,” a woman replied.

Olavo de Carvalho, an advisor to Bolsonaro, vulgarly criticized the piece on Twitter.

Notari, whose previous work has been displayed at various galleries explained on her Facebook page that she created the piece to comment on gender issues in general.

“In Diva, I use art to dialogue with…gender issues from a female perspective combined with a cosmopocentric and anthropocentric western society,” Notari shared on her post to Facebook. “Currently these issues have become increasingly urgent. After all, it is by changing perspective of our relationship between humans and nonhuman, that will allow us to live longer on that planet and in a less unequal and catastrophic society.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com