Though it has ancient traditions in Mexico dating back to the time of the Aztecs, Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) has gained steady popularity in the U.S. in recent years — at least as a decorative concept. Observed around the same time as our Halloween, it’s a joyous, very social celebration, far removed from notions of lonely cemeteries or abandoned Gothic mansions.
Relatively few Americans participate in the full traditional ritual — an elaborate honoring of one’s ancestors, including graveside visits. But many are attracted to the symbolic festive skulls. Gorgeously decorated in vivid colors, they can be sculptural heads, edible “sugar skulls,” or full anthropomorphic skeletons on parade. (The grinning, often flower-bedecked skulls show up on a variety of crafty merchandise, from T-shirts to wallets to dish towels.)
But perhaps it’s not all for show. Students in elementary school today learn the history of Day of the Dead, and make art about it. And Hands On!, Hendersonville’s kids’ museum on Main Street, doesn’t want to leave curious adults out, either. From October 27-30, the venue is hosting a Día de los Muertos “self-directed craft activity.” All are welcome — young and old, living and otherwise.
318 N. Main St. $4. 828-697-8333. www.handsonwnc.org.