Current Events, Poetry

Sunday Scribblings #121: The Day of the Dead: One Sure Way to Bring Fun Into It

The Day of the Dead is fast approaching in Mexico; and Mexico celebrates it with color, food, music, and a touch of humor too. It is not a day of mourning but rather a day to celebrate the lives of those who passed on; and to appreciate the mortality of our lives.

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Notepad and a pen over it with a cup of coffee next to it. words read Sunday Scribblings, and this is for Sunday Scribblings #121: One Way to Have Fun on the Day of the Dead

Poetic Sundays: Calaveras or Calaveritas for the Day of the Dead

While the term calavera (Spanish for “skull”), the term is most often applied to edible or decorative skulls made (usually by hand) from either sugar or clay, used in the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead. It can also refer to other artistic representations of skulls, like lithographs and drawings, as well as poems or written expressions related to death. Calaveritas simply means “little skull.”

This takes me to today’s poetic form, which is, well, the Calaveras or Calaveritas, written especially around the Day of the Dead. These poems can be written as dedications (many times filled with both humor and nostalgia) for the dead, or as satirical creations for the living. The people being satirized are often people in the public eye (like politicians or celebrities) and even family or friends.

These poems help mix life and death, kind of bridge them together, which is kind of one of the main aspects of the Day of the Dead. They also make it easy to express thoughts and feelings that we couldn’t or cannot – both about the deceased and those living among us.

What is the Calavera or Calaverita Poetic Form?

As mentioned earlier, the calaveras are “satirical poems that critique or poke fun of the living individuals many times political figures or other in the public eye.” The calaveras are written by adults and kids alike for fun, so it is a no-worries, no-rules poem.

While the rules of writing the Calaveras are pretty flexible, most often, they are composed of one or more quatrains (four-line stanzas) of eight syllables lines (others are acceptable too) and simple rhymes schemes per the poet’s choice. Many Calaveras are only made of one to three stanzas, though the length is up to the poet.

The Calavera’s Characteristics

So the Calavera’s /Calaverita’s elements are that it is:

  • stanzaic (optional): very often written in one or more quatrains. The length of the poem itself is left to the poet, so it can be just one stanza or many.
  • rhymed (again optional): poet’s choice; some of the most commonly used rhyme schemes are aabb or abab or abba or or xaxa or axax or unrhymed or other rhyme scheme of your choice – you the poet!
  • syllabic (optional as well): often eight-syllable lines, but if you chose a different number of syllables remember to keep it similar for all the lines across the poem (the length of the first line thus sets an example for the length of remaining lines)
  • ironic, humorous, satirical, joking, or, well, you get the gist!
  • written as an epitaph, describing the life of the “dead” (double quotes indicating the person does not really need to be dead!); or written about death itself
  • often accompanied by a drawing or picture related to death
  • simply a poetic roast of sorts!

How to Write a Calaveras (or Calaveritas)

  • Select the person (either living or dead) to whom you want to address your poem. You can even select something too. For example, there is a Spanish calaveras about the song “Despacito” – if you can read/understand the language, check it out here!
  • Get your vocabulary / key phrases /ideas ready
    • If you are writing in English or another language, you can still add a few Spanish words to help set the spirit of the poem, and of course, have a list of humorous words that can help add to the irony, satire, and such for the theme of the poem
    • Write down a few words and phrases associated with this person (favorite foods/drinks/things/quotes they always said/some unique quirk of theirs; sounds/smells/words you think of when you think of them – maybe their laugh, even their snoring, or maybe the scent of their favorite perfume; even and of course, fun/humorous words)
    • What would you say to them in the poem that you didn’t or couldn’t or cannot say in person? Imagine a conversation of sorts.
  • If choosing to write about someone deceased, pick something fun to write about them using the above ideas (or other) and something nostalgic too. This poem can be a bridge of sorts, which is one of the themes for the Day of the Dead – to create a bridge between life and death.
  • If choosing to write a satirical piece about someone (or something) living, think about their quirks or habits; and use those to write about how they might just meet La Muerta (death) and maybe they cheat her (or not). Note that this is all in humor…
  • Note that all these are just tips and ideas, and you can make your calaveras your own.

My Calavera Attempt Ahead of the Day of the Dead

My first attempt (I know I am going to try to write a few more, but this is just to have an example/placeholder here) – this one is a Calaveritas (little poem after all)

Things That Go Kaput
My sink, it did shine so bright, –
gleaming, glistening,,, empty.
But my eyes shed tears despite (this)
For my dishwasher died on me!
~vidya @ladyinreadwrites

h/t and further reading

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Poetic Sundays: Calaveras or Calaveritas for the Day of the Dead


On My Blog And the Homefront

One whole week of posting (I admit to playing catch up once again!)

Not much on the homefront except of course, Diwali in the early part of the week, and ended it with the fall concert at the school, where my daughter is part of the band.


On My Blog and On the Homefront

Not sure yet on this, but as the week unfolds, I will know more.


Literary Celebrations (close-to-it also!)

Foodie Celebrations

Note: for any excess Halloween candy that you have no idea what to do with, check out Operation Gratitude or Treats for Troops (this is for the US but I am sure there are similar efforts in other countries too)

Other Celebrations and Observations

  • October 31st is of course celebrated across various nations as Halloween, Samhain. It is also Girl Scout Founder’s Day, , World Cities Day, World Savings Day
  • November 1 through the 2nd is set aside in Mexico for the Day of the Dead celebrations, though other days, such as October 31 or November 6, may be included depending on the locality
  • National Stress Awareness Day is on the first Wednesday in November
  • Nov 6th happens to be Saxophone Day
  • And National Bison Day is celebrated on the first Saturday in November (The American Bison is the National Animal of the US of A)

Wrapped Up: My Sunday Scribblings

So dear reader, you have reached the end of this Sunday Scribblings! As always, I welcome your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about this post. Will you be attempting to write the fun Calaverita? And, of course, do let me know if you plan to celebrate any of these mentioned celebrations this coming week/month?

Linking this to the Sunday Post over at the Caffeinated Reviewer and the Sunday Salon. And for Day 30 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge

12 thoughts on “Sunday Scribblings #121: The Day of the Dead: One Sure Way to Bring Fun Into It

  1. I loved reading your version of a Calavera-style poem. I think it sounds great! It was so interesting to read about this style of poetry and its connection to the Day of the Dead.

  2. This is actually interesting because it’s the first time to know about the Calavera’s Characteristics and how to write it. My brother would love to know about it as he loves this stuff.

  3. I like that this form of writing does make it easier for us to express thoughts and feelings that we normally may struggle with while speaking.

  4. I learned something new today! I attempted to write a Calaverita but only completed two lines. It’s too humiliating to put here. Hahaha! I had no idea there was a National Doughnut Day, but I’m curious to see how others celebrate!

  5. This reminds me of the Animation – Coco. And between poetry by the way.

    And today is national stress day. It’s the first Wednesday in November. This is the ‘holiday’ I will be celebrating 🥳.

  6. What I really like a lot about your blog is that it shows how much you love words and enjoy language. Your approach to everything written seems to be full of passion – I like that. You did a great job here with the poetry and those tons of background info. Keep up the amazing work!

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