Also known as “All Saints Day” and occurring the two days after Halloween, Dia de los Muertos is a celebration of death like no other. Mainly observed in Mexico, locals reflect on the past and honor those in their families who have passed on. Here are a few things you should know if you find yourself in Mexico during this holiday.
Unlike many other cultures where death is seen as something sad, Mexicans celebrate death as a part of life. Dia de los Muertos is a joyous occasion! Massive parades and processions lead to the cemetery with marigolds and embellished floats. Women and men dress in bright, traditional garb with their faces painted as skulls. The general rule is, if you want to take part, join in.
When the procession ends, families set up decorated altars full of pictures and keepsakes on their family member’s graves. The day is taken to clean and fix the grave sites while adding fresh flowers and new decorations. The town party goes through the night with a dinner of the deceased one’s favorite food and drink. As the sun sets, music floats in the air from mariachi bands and candles litter the grounds to give a warm glow as impromptu dances occur.
Traditional Dia de los Muertos food tends to be on the sweeter side with colorful, detailed marzipan skulls. Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead) is specifically baked for this holiday. This sweet bread is rolled up like a bun and decorated with bread bones on top. The dough bones represent the loved one who has passed and the placement on the bread represents the circle of life. Tamales are also the favorite food in town and people spend days preparing the masa (cornmeal dough) and corn husks for this special occasion.
If you’re looking for a one of a kind cultural experience, this one may take the cake (or Pan de Muerto!). Take part in the celebrations in Mexico and laugh in Death’s face!
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