The struggle behind Dia de los Muertos


A simple and traditional altar for the day of the dead celebration. Photo credit: Maria Isabel Del Castillo Schmidhuber

Dia de los Muertos brings out some finger licking’ good food and great traditions from Oct. 31st to Nov. 2 that are great to have.

Certain food that are cooked during this holiday can sometimes be rarely found in our homes because they take so long to prepare that they can only be made on special occasions. But when they do come out, it is difficult to not think about eating them all up.

Throughout the three days of Dia de los Muertos, a holiday from Mexico; families and friends focus on gatherings to pray and remember loved ones who have passed away, it is believed that the spirits of those who have died come come to visit throughout these three days.

“This concept of the cycle or circle of life is a strong tradition with many native and indigenous peoples worldwide,” Azcentral website said in more depth to what this day meant.

With this tradition, an altar with pictures of loved ones and their favorite foods is placed in the house of those who participate. The spirits come and eat all the food that has been made for them. Some of those dishes are obviously the living’s favorite dishes also.

Some dishes that are cooked for this holiday are tradition like Pan de muerto which is definitely one of my favorites and because bakeries only make them during this time of the year it is crucial to eat as much.

According to TripSavvy, on a post based on the traveler’s guide for this holiday, the dessert is known for “Represent[ing] the deceased.”

Some dishes such as pan de muerto (bread of the dead) does have a special meaning behind them and is ravishing to look at.

Its shape is like a concha (a pastry with colorful frosting on top) but instead of having that bright sugar design in, it is covered in sugar like a donut with these bone looking pieces of bread that pop out on top. You know who have purchased a good piece of pan de muerto when it is a little moist, and you can tell that they used butter, lots of butter when they cooked it.

A key decoration for the altar are sugar skulls, these represent the human skull and there are different sizes. The sizes represent the age in which the loved one passed away, if it was a young child then the skull would be smaller than of someone who passed away at 90-years-old. The names of the dead are written on the forehead of the skulls to represent them in the altar.

“While you’ll find a variety of versions, you won’t find any that lack color, because color reflects life, and the Day of the Dead celebrates just that.” popsugar website said.

Sugar is one of the elements that kids adore and wish could live off of. These skulls are completely made of sugar and the fact that are very cute makes it hard for kids to not grab them.

“I used to do Dia de los Muertos and it wasn’t hard not to eat them but it was hard not to play with the sugar skulls and other decorations they out up,” says Jose Campos, a Skyline College student.

The famous mole negro is another favorite everywhere that is known as another delicious chicken dish which comes from Oaxaca which is in the south part of México. This dish has a long cooking process which is why when it is made is a killer. Your taste buds call for it when you get a scent of it and it may be spicy for some like my aunt who thinks that the pepper is spicy but since it is rare in the kitchens sometimes, when it is available, one must dig in if possible.

Day of the dead is filled with laughs, tears and many smiles because while you pray for the souls of your loved ones, you also remember the good times you had with your loved one. Dead isn’t a bad thing, it’s good in many ways. On this day we celebrate life itself.

It may seem hard to not do at the beginning but throughout the years as you learn the meaning behind all of the decorations, you realize that it is worth the wait. Our ancestors will come by to visit and eat some of their meals before going back to wherever they came from. Some say that after the holiday is over, the leftover food doesn’t taste as good because the spirits have already sucked all of the taste out of it.