Tuesday, November 02, 2004
pan de los muertos
november 1 and 2 are collectively known as días de los muertos, or days of the dead--a time of remembrance of those who have died and a celebration of the continuance of life. the tradition and history of this mexican holiday goes back to aztecan times, but has been changed and shaped by christianity and modern living. some of the rituals still observed are the placing of altars in home ladened with food and flowers to help attract the spirits of the dead, and celebrating with food and family at the gravesites of loved ones.
photos and items of loved ones, fragrant flowers, brightly decorated calaveras (skulls) and animal figures made from sugar, are placed on the altars and gravesites. another popular item is pan de los muertos, or bread of the dead, made from flour, eggs, yeast, sugar, anise, and orange peel, then decorated with skulls or bone shapes. it is highly fragrant because it is believed that the aroma will attract the souls of loved ones. the spirits "consume" the aromas, and once they are done with the essence, people take away the bread and other sweets, and eat them, often enjoying them with mugs of fragrant hot chocolate.