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A 3x3x3 looking like a Mexican Sugar Skull.
This is a 3x3x3 modification made for representing a Mexican Sugar Skull. México has a very popular tradition called "The day of the dead". This tradition has a lot of elements and symbols and one of them is the Sugar Skull.
In Mexico, in pre-Columbian times, death was seen only as a change, the passage from one stage of life to another. For Mesoamericans it was common to preserve human skulls and use them for the rituals that symbolized the end of that cycle. They were used as an offering to their gods. An offering that recalls the inevitable transition from this world to another.
With the arrival of the Spaniards in Mexico there was a fusion of cultures (a syncretism). All rituals that went against the teachings of the Catholic religion were prohibited. But in many cases, because of the resistance of the indigenous people to eliminate them, they where replaced by others.
This was the case of the custom of honoring the dead, which ended up uniting several indigenous traditions with Spaniards. The Mexicans continued practicing this ceremony and acquired some European techniques. From Spain they brought a technique to make sugar candies (also known as "alfeñiques") and so they began to make the now famous Sugar Skulls to replace the skulls that were used in the rituals.
The Sugar Skulls are usually white with decorations of various colors. The ingredients for its preparation are: sugar, egg white, lemon and a binder called "chautle". And the decorations are made with an icing made of egg, sugar and dyes.
Currently these delicious skull-shaped candies serve to remember the dead and the fate we all share. It is very common to find them as an offering of the also famous "Altar de Muertos" in the "Day of the Dead Festival" that takes place on November 1st and 2nd. This is one of the most famous Mexican traditions, and its protected by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
The altar is a fundamental element in the celebration. Indigenous cultures have the belief that the spirits of the deceased are allowed to return from the world of the dead to enjoy their favorite dishes, flowers and to gather with their families in order to comfort them and confront them to their loss.
There are several offerings that can be placed on the altars, each with its own meaning. The ones you can see in the images are:
• Sugar skull: Used as a reminder that death is always present.
• Pan de muerto (the bread): The Catholic Church presents it as the body of Christ. It is adorned with shapes of bones in allusion to the cross.
• Cempasúchil Flowers: With their smell and color they help direct souls to their home. In some parts of the country it is customary to make paths of petals that serve to guide the deceased with their family and then back again.
• Tequila: You can put any type of drink that has been of the deceased's taste.
• Papel picado: This paper is used in many Mexican celebrations because of its color as a representation of joy.
• Fruit / Food: For the deceased to enjoy the dishes that were their favorite
• Candles: The flame is the light, faith and hope that guides the souls to be able to orient themselves and find their way back home. It is the guide in this and another world.
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