Day of the Dead (Spanish: Dia De Los Muertos) is a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world. Dia De Los Muertos focuses on family and friends getting together to pray for and remember friends and family members who have passed away.
November 1st begins the Dia de los Muertos festivities in connection with the Catholic holiday of All Saints Day in which the deceased children are honored and remembered.
November 2nd–in connection with the Catholic holiday of All Souls Day– is for the remembrance of the adult dead.
Dia de los Muertos combines these days to celebrate the the deceased and enjoy their memories.
Despite it’s name, Day of the Dead is not a scary, spooky or somber Holiday. The spirits of the deceased are said to pay their families a visit during Dia de los Muertos so the families prepare an altar for them.
Traditions connected with Dia De Los Muertos include:
- Building private altars honoring the deceased
- Making Sugar Skulls and marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed then visiting graves with these as gifts if you can.
- They also leave possessions of the deceased.
The altar consists of a covered table, and a few crates or boxes are added and covered to create open shelves and other raised display areas. The coverings used can vary from plain to vibrantly colored cloth. The altar is then set up with the appropriate offerings (Spanish: ofrendas) for Dia de los Muertos.
The offerings placed on the altar for Dia de los Muertos usually consist of:
- A wash bowl, basin, razors, soap and other items the traveling spirit can use to clean-up after the journey.
- Pictures of the deceased
- Personal belongings for each person and any other offerings the deceased may enjoy such as a pack of cigarettes or a bottle of tequila.
- Candles to help light the way for the spirits
- Papel picado (tissue paper cut-outs) wreaths, crosses and flowers.
- Dia de los Muertos dishes to help feed and nourish the traveling souls.
These offerings also represent the four main elements of nature — earth, wind, water, and fire. These are represented by movable or light-weight items such as tissue paper cut-outs (wind,) a bowl of water, candles (fire) and food (crops, earth.)
“Day of the Dead” Recipes
- Sugar Skulls
The most popular “Dia de los Muertos” ofrenda is Sugar Skulls. Sugar skulls are a traditional folk art from Central and Southern Mexico used to celebrate Day of the Dead. The skulls are made of a sugar mixture that has been pressed into molds and then dried. The dried sugar skulls are decorated with icing and sometimes non-edible items such as colored foil, feathers or sequins. Learn more about Sugar Skulls here and make your own Sugar Skulls here
- Pan de Muerto
This sweet bread is eaten by the families of the deceased during Dia de los Muertos, and placed on the altar. The Pan de Muerto is a made into a loaf and and extra dough is fashioned into decorations resembling bones. The bread is baked, glazed and decorated with colored sugar. Make your own Pan de Muerto here.
- Candied Pumpkin
This sweet dish consists of fresh pumpkin slices that are cooked in a piloncillo glaze. The Candided Pumpkin is also enjoyed by the family during Dia de los Muertos as well as placed on the altar.
- Chocolate Coffins and Skulls
These chocolate items are a newer addition to the altars. They can be plain or decorated with other edible items such as colored sugar, brightly colored candies or sprinkles. Chocolate Coffins and Skulls can be bought pre-made at El Burrito Mercado or you can make them yourself.
A hot cup of masa porridge known as Atole is used to nourish and warm the spirits when they return and/or when they leave.
The holiday has spread throughout the world:
In Brazil Dia de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches.
In Spain there are festivals and parades, and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones.
To learn more about Dia De Los Muertos visit El Burrito Mercado on Nove 1st thru 3rd Learn More