The Day of the Dead is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and parts of the US where there are numerous residents of Mexican origin. Normally, observed on November 1 and 2, the holiday is designed more to honor and remember the deceased rather than mourn their passing. The cultural significance of the holiday was recognized in 2008 by UNESCO when it was one of the first to be placed on the Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage which are designed to ensure greater awareness of and protection for major cultural events worldwide.
Customs and traditions related to The Day of the Dead include the making of family altars consisting of photos of the deceased, their favorite foods and drink, candles and even a basin with soap and a towel. All these things are meant to make the spirit of the deceased feel welcome.
Undoubtedly one of the most ubiquitous decorative themes of the holiday both on family altars and in the grand procession that is held in Mexico City on October 29 are the Calavera, or "sugar skull". The calavera is a representation of the skull created in cane sugar while the skeletons are made of a variety of materials including wood, sugar, nuts, and chocolate. La Catrina or "Calavera Catrina" is a skeleton wearing an elaborate costume, has become the symbol of the Day of the Dead.
When the government of Mexico City decided that they wanted a virtual Day of the Dead in the metaverse to go along with the physical one they turned to Ezel. Life. Ezel Life turned to Polycount, renewing a collaboration that produced the virtual Red House in the Metaverse which tells the story of Frida Kahlo’s early life and can now be accessed in Decentraland.
Polycount’s realization drew on all the traditional decorative elements of the Day of the Dead including skulls, dancing and flying skeletons and even virtual floats that replicated those forming part of the procession. As a tribute to the great Mexican muralist tradition, Polycount included Diego de Riviera’s famous 1924 Day of the Dead mural with its mounds of calaveras and dancing skeletons along with an image of Frida Kahlo.
Stephen H. Haliczer
Director of Metaverse Research