When the most popular plant meets a special holiday, the results can be magical. Case in point: Trader Joe's sugar skull Day of the Dead succulent planters, now filling Instagram feeds and selling fast at a store near you. They're just what you need to make your home festive, and perhaps add a deeper layer of meaning to the season.
The Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertes) is sometimes mistaken for "Mexican Halloween" because it involves dressing up and displaying skulls. In fact, it's much more than that. The ages-old holiday, celebrated from the stroke of midnight on November 1 to the afternoon of November 2, is believed to be the time when the spirits of the departed come to join their living relatives, explained the Day of the Dead website. To welcome their loved ones, families create ofrendas, or altars, filled with the person's favorite foods and drinks, photos, and marigold flowers, which are thought to guide the spirits to the altar with their bright colors and sweet aroma.
Another tradition on the Day of the Dead are Calaveras, or skulls, which are usually depicted smiling as a way of poking fun at death. Celebrants paint their faces like grinning skulls and eat sugar skull-shaped candies, thought to balance out the bitterness of death, according to National Geographic. So these calaveras planters are a fitting decoration for this time of year.
Trader Joe's ceramic calaveras planters come in two sizes —"Mini" and "Large" — and are painted in a variety of bright, festive colors. Growing inside, you'll find either a succulent or an air plant (Tillandsia); the plant variety varies in different areas of the country. Whichever type your area has, you're sure to find one (or two, or... ) that appeals to you. Millennials, with their busy schedules, especially appreciate the convenience of these low-maintenance succulents, according to Succulent City; a little watering every now and then is all they need to flourish, and hot temperatures don't faze them.
Even if you're not from a culture that celebrates Day of the Dead, we could all take a lesson from the lessons it teaches. Rather than treating death with fear, dark clothes, and hushed voices, the holiday asks us to remember our loved ones and rejoice in the lives they led. (Remember Coco? Getting a little misty? Yeah, me too.) Families spend the day playing music, telling stories about their relatives and feasting in their memory. It's also traditional to clean and decorate the gravesites of family members, a caring gesture of respect.
Trader Joe's has been offering sugar skull planters for the last couple of years, but it's always exciting to see a favorite product re-emerge when a holiday comes up. The mini planters are selling for $4, and the large ones for $10, so you can add a pop of color to your kitchen, bedroom, or windowsill without breaking the bank.
At the end of Day of the Dead, you can either keep the planter around (because why not? It's cool any time of year) or transplant the succulent into a non-seasonal pot and store the skull for next year. Or, for the best of both worlds, take a cutting from your plant and grow it in a new pot. Succulents are amazingly easy to propagate, per Gardener's Path; just cut a leaf or two, let them dry completely, and plant when the roots appear.
Now that Trader Joe's is in full pumpkin mode (pumpkin sweet rolls! Quick bread! Oatmeal! Sparkling ginger beer! Cheesecake!), this is the time to navigate the crammed parking lot and pick up a colorful calaveras skull succulent planter along with your Pumpkin O's. Your Instagram feed is anxiously waiting.
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