The history behind the iconic Dia de los Muertos look

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Wednesday, November 1, 2023
The history behind the iconic Dia de los Muertos look
Day of the Dead is filled with traditions honoring the lives of deceased loved ones. La Calavera Catrina is one of the most recognizable symbols and it's relatively new to the centuries-old Mexican holiday.

HOUSTON, Texas -- La Calavera Catrina, or the elegant skull, is a tall female skeleton wearing a lavish hat and a wide smile. It has become a recognizable symbol of Dia de los Muertos. While the Mexican holiday has been around for thousands of years, the iconic look is relatively new.

In 1910, La Calavera Catrina was originally a satire sketch created by Mexican cartoon illustrator Jose Guadalupe Posada. Gloria Sadian with the group, Las Catrinas del Barrio en Houston, said the skeleton look was depicting Mexican high-society's obsession with rich Europeans who powdered their face too much.

"It ruined his career," Gloria Sadian said. "But the people loved it because they could make fun of these rich people without getting shot."

Overtime the look became synonymous with Dia de los Muertos. Many who celebrate the holiday now paint their faces depicting La Catrina.

Artist Veronica Moreno said to embrace who you are when painting your face but also be respectful, "Don't really see it as a costume, but embracing our culture."