Friday, October 30, 2009

El Dias de los Muertos

I am so into Spanish culture - Spain, South America and Mexico. I love the internet.. it gives me access to so much Spanish culture. I am loving this wildly colorful sit-com from Spain filled with Spanish culture, 'Cuentame', which is totally crazy. There is a radio show I also love listening to, but to be honest I only get some of that they say.. Its like being a kid again! But the Spanish culture everywhere is very exciting, colorful, passionate.. & of course I have been reading about Mexico's ‘Day of the Dead’. Mostly in Spanish, but this info is taken mainly from

The Day of the Dead is Mexicos biggest and most spectacular annual festival - public and yet intimately private at the same time.

Its purpose is to celebrate, remember and, as much as anything, to entertain the dead.
Sometimes roads of flowers are put in place to guide the dead from the graveyard to the house where their relatives will have constructed an altar dedicated to the most recently deceased and made ready an array of sugary foods and drink.

Many commemorative ceremonies are, by their very nature, sad and sombre: graveyards themselves are not joyous places. However, the Mexican Day of the Dead is anything but sober and cheerless. It is an effervescent event, full of zest and colour, an annual opportunity to remember and re-engage with relatives and friends who have passed on.

It should be referred to the DAYS of the Dead, as there are 2-3 of them, and they last every year from the afternoon of October 31st. into the night of November 2nd. The date coincides with Hallowe’en (celebrated in Europe and the US) and with All Saints’ (and All Souls’) Day. Far from being a morbid or spooky occasion, Mexicans have a healthy, positive, carefree, ironic approach to the subject of death and this is reflected in their great festival ‘El Día de los Muertos’, ‘Días de Muertos’ or just ‘Muertos’ for short.

It’s a time of celebration as families come together to share memories of those loved ones who have died, and to welcome their spirits back to Earth and into their homes.

The more life, colour, music, dance, joy and foods that can be provided the better. It is a veritable family ‘feast’, laid on every year especially for the dead, and it aims to appeal to all the senses: attracted by the sounds (from music to fireworks), lights (of candles), aromas (of foods, flowers and incense) and general festivity, the souls can come back to Earth to enjoy, however briefly, some of the pleasures they remember when they were alive.

In small villages and towns throughout the land families still decorate their traditional household altars with much the same foods (such as tamales and hot chocolate) and flowers (such as the yellow marigold) that their Aztec (or Mixtec, Maya, Totonac...) ancestors did.

In Mexico, by tradition, the souls of dead children (‘angelitos’) return first, and October 31 is kept for welcoming them back to Earth; after they’ve left, the adult souls return on November 1. Everything is carefully arranged on the offering table, centered around the photographs of those who have died. You can’t see the returning spirits, you can’t talk to them (well, you can, but they never answer back!), but Mexicans strongly believe - and sense - that they are most definitely there with them.

The souls will enjoy and benefit from the goodness, the essence, of the foods and drinks on offer to them, refreshed for the long journey back to the other world: later the living family members will physically consume what’s there.

I have been working in a raw test kitchen for the past few months, doing some serious experimenting! Tomorrow (& today) we are creating 13 different pizzas, getting really creative with it! The Mexican one will hold an honorary place for me!! : )

Felize Días de Muertos!

1 comment:

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