¡Feliz día de los Muertos!
The loathsome holiday season is not over yet! Happy Day of the Dead! Yes, it really is a day of celebration, an excellent followup to Halloween. Let’s have a look at what it’s about…
The Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos or Día de los Muertos) is a holiday celebrated from 31st October through 2nd of November inclusive, though other days, such as 6th November, may be included depending on the locality. It originated, in part, in Mexico, where it is mostly observed, but also in other places, especially by people of Mexican heritage elsewhere. Although associated with the Western Christian Allhallowtide observances of All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, it has a much less solemn tone and is portrayed as a holiday of joyful celebration rather than mourning. The multi-day holiday involves family and friends gathering to pay respects and to remember friends and family members who have died. These celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.
Observance in Mexico
During Día de Muertos, the tradition is to build private altars (“ofrendas”) containing the favorite foods and beverages, as well as photos and memorabilia, of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so the souls will hear the prayers and the words of the living directed to them. These altars are often placed at home or in public spaces such as schools and libraries, but it is also common for people to go to cemeteries to place these altars next to the tombs of the departed.
During Day of the Dead festivities, food is both eaten by living people and given to the spirits of their departed ancestors as ofrendas (‘offerings’). Tamales are one of the most common dishes prepared for this day for both purposes.
Pan de muerto and calaveras are associated specifically with Day of the Dead. Pan de muerto is a type of sweet roll shaped like a bun, topped with sugar, and often decorated with bone-shaped pieces of the same pastry. Calaveras, or sugar skulls, display colorful designs to represent the vitality and individual personality of the departed.
A common symbol of the holiday is the skull (in Spanish calavera), which celebrants represent in masks, called calacas (colloquial term for skeleton), and foods such as chocolate or sugar skulls, which are inscribed with the name of the recipient on the forehead. Sugar skulls can be given as gifts to both the living and the dead. Other holiday foods include pan de muerto, a sweet egg bread made in various shapes from plain rounds to skulls, often decorated with white frosting to look like twisted bones.
click here for observances outside of Mexico.
As promised, I have included a recipe from my archives, enjoy!
Awesome we get to continue celebrating morbid things for at least a few more days! Only 54 more days until Christmas folks, that’s 53 sleeps! I bet most of us aren’t even thinking about the holidays yet…lol. Anyway have a taco, enchilada or tamales with a nice cup of hot chocolate and get in the spirit of things. Cheers, and happy Monday to you all!