As we head into the Halloween season, there is a bigger, more sacred celebration that is taking place around the same time. While we may associate skeletons with Halloween, the Latin community looks at this season a little differently. Over 2,500 years ago, Mesoamerica celebrated their dead for an entire month. This tradition and celebration is one that is meant to be warm and not scary. Eddie’s Mexican Restaurant is here to talk about Dia de los Muertos and how food is closely intertwined in the celebration.
Dia de los Muertos & Death
This holiday has always been set aside for Mexicans to have a way to deal with death and the role it plays in the cycle of life. It gives families a chance to celebrate those that have passed on before. To celebrate, families build ofrendas or alters in their homes, cemeteries or other public places. They are decorated with marigolds, photos of the deceased ancestors as well as some of their favorite things, including food. This is done in an effort to entice them back to the land of the living for a day or two. It is a sacred way of celebrating the life of those passed and ensure they haven’t been forgotten.
What Sugar Skulls Mean to Day of the Dead?
Colorfully painted skulls are often the symbol of Dia de los Muertos and easily associated with the holiday as well as Halloween. While the art found on sugar skulls can be unique and absolutely beautiful, many people don’t realize what they symbolize. These colorfully painted skulls are placed on ofrendas and in honor of the deceased loved one. Sometimes, that person’s name will even be written on the forehead of the skull that is placed on their grave. They are meant to be colorful and cheerful as this is not only a celebration of death but of life as well.
What Food are Associated with Dia de los Muertos?
There are several foods that are traditionally eaten during this celebration. Here are some of the foods that are part of this tradition.
– Sugar Skulls: This sweet treat can be so adorned that it isn’t edible, but it is still made of a mound of sugar that is in the shape of a skull. Smaller ones are often made with the intention of eating it.
– Pan de Muerto: When translated this mean bread of the dead. It is sweet, round and flavored with orange zest, anise seeds, cinnamon and then sprinkled with powdered sugar.
– Tamales: This delicious dish is often eaten during the celebration. The masa that is filled with different kinds of protein is enjoyed by all.
– Spirits: There are plenty of alcoholic drinks that are found on many ofrendas during the holiday.