If we asked you in which country Halloween was most popular, the first country you would probably think of is America. But America, like here in the UK, don’t go so far as to declare Halloween a public holiday. Unlike Mexico!

Halloween marks a three-day party in Mexico, called the Day of the Dead Festival, starting on October 31st and finishing two days later. So, if you are looking for the best and most traditional way to celebrate Halloween this year, why not consider hosting a Mexican Day of the Dead Party? Here we will look at some of the traditions that form part of the celebrations and how you can bring a Day of the Dead theme into your costumes and decorations. And of course, we’ll advise on what Mexican party food you can serve up, with inspiration from the new Tex Mex range available at your local convenience store.

What Is The Day of the Dead Festival?

The Day of the Dead festival, or Dia de Muertos as the locals say, is a three-day celebration of the dead - a national holiday across Mexico as described above. During this time, family and friends pray and celebrate the lives of those they have lost. There are shrines, decorating of graves and offerings (food and gifts) to welcome the spirit of loved ones to return and party with them. Whilst many cultures see Halloween as a time of fear from returning spirits, in Mexico, it is a far more joyous time of excitement and joy – what a twist!

There are certain things which are symbolic of the Day of the Dead celebration:

  • Skulls – the skull represents the face of death – the physical representation of the dead. However, they are often painted on faces or used for decoration in bright colours to represent the individuality and vitality of the departed.
  • Bright vibrant colours – the colours aren’t limited to just the skulls…
  • Marigolds – the flower of the dead and guide of the spirits.
  • Tissue paper decorations – designs are cut from tissue paper to represent the fragility of life.

So now you know more about this vibrant celebration, here are our tips for throwing an authentic Day of the Dead party.

Offer Modern Mexican Party Food

The traditional Mexican food enjoyed during Halloween includes Pan de Muerto and Tamales. Pan de Muerto is Spanish for ‘bread of the dead’ and is a sweetened soft bread bun, while Tamales are a banana leaf wrapped or corn husk filled treat, filled with cheese, meats, vegetables or chillies. Though traditional, these aren’t what come to mind for us brits when we think of Mexican cuisine, and we would recommend keeping it modern with some Tex Mex dishes:

Finger Foods

  • Offer nachos and salsa for your skull adorned guests, topped with jalapenos, mozzarella and sour cream.
  • Find mac ‘n’ cheese bites in our Tex Mex collection, deep fried balls of soft and creamy macaroni cheese with a tomato dip.
  • Tex Mex dishes tend to merge the food culture of America and Mexico, which is perfectly represented by our dirty fries. Crisp French fries covered in spicy chilli and sour cream. It may be finger food, but your guests will definitely need a napkin!

The Classics

  • Let guests build their own food with fajitas and burritos. Amongst the new Tex Mex range at your local SPAR are our spicy burritos, a flour tortilla packed with rice, beans, peppers and spicy minced beef. We’ve saved you the trouble of rolling them up and topped with tomato sauce and cheese.
  • One of the most popular Mexican dishes throughout Europe is Chilli Con Carne, and you could offer up a big bowl full to your guests with our Chilli Con Carne and rice. Packed full of kidney beans and chilli heat.
  • Please your guests with Piri-Piri, offer them SPAR Tex Mex Cajun Chicken with spicy potato wedges.

Determine Your Day of the Dead Decorations

Taking into account the Day of the Dead symbolism above, you can create some striking room decorations.

Bright colours are the order of the day (a real contrast to your traditional Halloween shades of black, dark purples and murky greens). Brightly coloured paper chains are low cost, and allow youngsters to get involved and are bang on the theme of Mexican art.

Skulls are commonplace, and can be utilised in masks, in your paper crafts or as a centre-piece on shrines or tables by making sugar skulls. If you are using a skull as the centre piece of a shrine, consider resting a Hawaiian garland or brightly coloured scarves around it. A few extra tips on what to include:

  • Bright orange marigolds are used to guide the spirits of the departed – make sure brightly coloured flowers feature in the room.
  • Dogs should also be featured in your Day of the Dead party décor – they are said to guide spirits to their final resting place in the afterlife. Toy dogs strategically placed around the room will pay homage to this, as will your real-life four-legged friend!
  • Finally, let there be light, with candles dotted around tables and windowsill. The flames provide the guiding light for ancestral spirits to return amongst the living.

Master your Mexican Day of the Dead Costume

Food and decorations are sorted, now what are you and your guests going to wear? There is a pretty simple rule of thumb – paint your face as a skull and you are mostly there. There’s a few different options to choose from in terms of costume or accessories:

  • Matador
  • Flamenco dancer
  • Full Skeleton
  • Flowers
  • Sombreros

    There are a range of ready to buy Day of the Dead costumes available online and in fancy dress shops for hire.

SPAR Are Bringing the Day of the Dead Theme To Life!

There are no tricks, just treats in store this Halloween with SPAR. Marking the launch of our Tex Mex range, we are giving our customers the chance to win some amazing Mexican themed prizes, as well as offering some frighteningly good offers in store. Bring your Day of the Dead party to life with a visit to your local convenience store. Or find out more about how to celebrate Halloween with SPAR here!