Who is La Catrina?

After more than a few people who stopped by my house to admire the gorgeous porcelain bottle of Tita Dona Celia edition tequila, I thought it was only proper to give some more history to La Catrina, who is a strong piece of Mexican culture and is commonly used in marketing for the Day of the Dead.

Mexico is an attractive place for many reasons outside of going to the source of all the best tequila in the world!  Offering beaches, resorts, a vibrant culture, and even a very cosmopolitan area in Mexico City, tourism continues to boom in the colorful country for people who want to experience their culture and take in their amazing weather.

La Catrina Dress Up and Make Up

Mexicans dress up, and even apply La Catrina makeup, in celebration of Dia de Los Muertos.

One area Mexico thrives on, is culture and traditions.  Perhaps the most famous tradition in Mexico is Cinco de Mayo, but not far behind it is Dia de Los Muertos.  An annual event that celebrates the relationship that Mexicans have with death and ancestry is rich in rituals.  People get together to celebrate family that isn’t around anymore and spend time appreciating the moment.

This celebration can vary depending on where you are in Mexico, but the event goes on for many days, starting in November.  You’ll see all sorts of cultural symbols during this time, such as sugar skulls, altars, skeletons, and more.  It’s often confused by some people who call it “Mexican Halloween,” but that’s only done because the event is just after the American Halloween.

The most noteworthy symbol of the Day of the Dead is a female skeleton donning a fancy hat with feathers.  This is the famous La Catrina!

This skeleton was created in the early 1900’s by an artist named Jose Guadalupe Posada, who was a political cartoonist who had a history of controversy.  He was reportedly well liked by people who appreciated his drawings of skeletons in a way to remind them that at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, we’re all going to be dead.  The feathery hat was said to be a touch of class because many Mexicans had the desire to look like the Europeans did at that time.  They wanted to look wealthy, and this drawing of La Catrina was said to be satirical way to remind people to be themselves.  The message Posada was trying to get across was that rich or poor, black or white, you would all end up a skeleton one day.

The husband of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, a famous artist, used La Catrina in the mural “Dreams of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park.”

This was done in the 1940’s and features some of the most important symbols and people of Mexico.  The mural is in a museum in Mexico City and is said to be a very worthy trip.  (The exact museum is the Diego Rivera Mural Museum.)  It was when Rivera immortalized La Catrina that she became an iconic symbol for the activities that ensue during the Day of the Dead.  During these parties, women paint colorful make up on their faces and wear elegant clothing, some even attempting to look like the famous La Catrina skeleton.

la catrina figurine

You’ll find La Catrina statues throughout the country, and many tourists purchase these and bring them home as souvenirs.

If you can’t make it to Mexico, and want to represent, you can get one on Amazon.com.  

At the end of the day, whether you drink your tequila straight, on the rocks, or out of tequila shot glasses, remember the big takeaway here that La Catrina represents is that one day we will all end up a skeleton!