The Skeleton Key to Exploring Dia De Los Muertos

Chicago knows how to showcase Halloween.  From horror movie marathons at the Music Box theater to elaborate Eyes Wide Shut style masquerades, there is something to put a scare into everyone.  This year, we decided to make the abnormal leap into 2 different Dia De Los Muertos events in the Chi.

Quick Skele-view: Traditionally, Dia De Los Muertos, or day of the dead, is a two day remembrance in Mexican culture where people honor their lost loved ones.  People make shrines decorated with photos of those lost, sugar skulls and other items linked to their loved one.

Dia De Los Muertos also inspires calavera, or skeleton, art and the sought after La Cavalera Catrina, the famous female skeletal face.

We split up to hunt down two different Day of the Dead events.

Google+ Local Day of the Dead at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen and Gold Coast Day of the Dead at International Museum of Surgical Science on Lake Shore Drive benefiting Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Chicago.

Kate: Monica wasn’t available for the Google+ Local Day of the Dead event so I wrangled two brave friends, Melissa and Karla, to come with me.  It was a thriller to see Dia De Los Tamales with a huge spread of food for us.  Our fave vegan black bean tamales were haunting the table as well as asparagus taquitos, fresh guac, and three types of salsas (red, green and black bean & corn).  My meat eating pals were treated too, not with brains, but pollo and pork tamales.


Dia de los Tamales

After feasting, we sneaked through the Day of the Dead exhibit.  There is a diverse array of art mediums, including full shrines, wood burnings, statues and prints.  No pics are allowed in the exhibit but here is Skeleton Elvis leering outside.  He’s a hunk o burning bones.



My substitute camera woman, Karla, conquered her nightmares and took a picture of my feared glare.

The monster mash of the event was getting my caterina makeup done.  All 3 makeup artists created detailed sugar skull looks for guests.  For dyi ghosts, YouTube tutorials are available for La Catrina as well, if you daaaare!

Monica: At the IMSS, I learned that there has been enormous changes in surgical science.  If they had not occurred, we would not be where we are in terms of technology and surgical combined.

One intriguing section on the third floor displayed history, anatomy and medical conditions of pain including alternative treatments such as Ayurveda, an ancient Indian holistic medicine.  Ayurvedic medicine combines diet, yoga, breathing exercises, medicinal herbs and more to resolve pain.


Some interesting facts: Bayer, famous for Aspirin production, once sold Heroin as medicine in late 1800, thus causing one million opiate addicts in USA by 1900.   Cigarettes were used to treat Asthma (totally makes sense right? *sarcasm*).



Now the less creepy stuff….I sampled cupcakes from Swirlz Cupcakes, Ludwig Farmstead Creamery delicious Kickapoo and Gouda cheese, blood orange gelato by Caffe Gelato, Tequila Avion Espresso, tasty Pumpkin Patch and Hypnotize Me cupcakes by Guilty Pleasurez Cocktail Cupcakes and much more!

more photos

Swirlz Cupcakes – red velvet chocolate filling raspberry, Dia De Los Muertos chocolate mint, pumpkin s’mores, and carmelita!!

part 2photos

Caffe Gelato, Local Folks Foods, Tequila Avion Espresso, Guilty Pleasurez Cocktail Cupcakes, Angelina Ristorante and Anthony’s Own.