What may be considered one of the most interesting and yet confusing Mexican holiday is actually one of Mexico’s most influential and happiest celebrations of the year. People cleaning graves, and decorating them—ignoring the fact that there are skeleton particles just 6 feet down—or completely turning cemeteries into fully lit dancefloors. The Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday that celebrates life and takes place on the 1st – 2nd November. It is said that the spirits passed loved ones return to the world of the living during this time to be with families. Intrigued yet? Here are 4 interesting facts that will give you a better insight into the astonishing celebration of life on the Day of the Dead.
This holiday dates back to the Aztec, Toltec and Nahua civilization
This iconic celebration of life dates back to Mayan and Aztec times, and yet the message has prevailed for centuries. They believed when someone passed, the destination of their soul was made by the method in which they died. Surprisingly this was really a month-long celebration through which ancestors were honored with various offerings.
The iconic Calavera Catrina was created by a Mexican cartoonist
The Calavera Catrina has become the symbol of Mexico’s Day of the Dead. It came to life in 1912 by Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada, which was then crafted into what is now known as La Catrina by Mexican painter Diego Rivera, portrayed masterfully in his painting “Dream of a Sunday Afternoon along Central Alameda”.
The meaning behind the Xoloitzcuintli
Known as the “Mexican hairless dog,” these ancient breeds are considered to be one of the rarest dog breeds in the world and one that has been in existence for over 3,000 years! Xoloitzcuintli or ”Xolos” for short—are viewed as guardians, deemed sacred by ancient Aztecs and Mayans—they were believed to be guides for the dead.
What is an ofrenda? (altars)
Ofrendas or altars are a crucial part of the Day of the Dead celebrations—their main purpose—to honor the memory of each passed relative. Usually set up on a table, ofrendas are adorned with Cempasuchitl flowers, typical of such holiday. Pictures of late ancestors are placed on the ofrenda, as well as pieces of their favorite clothing, personal things, and toys for the defunct children. Food is uniquely prepared for returning souls, making sure to showcase their preferred dishes and goodies—mole, tamales, favorite fruits, sugar skulls and of course Pan de Muerto.
Incorporate a small piece of this tradition-infused holiday with this simple Bread of the Dead step-by-step recipe!
For the sponge
For the dough
For the decoration
For the bread bones