World Flavor Wednesday: Día de los Muertos
Halloween is one of America's favorite holidays, but have you ever wondered how people in other parts of the world celebrate? Canada and Ireland uphold similar traditions to the United States, dressing in costumes and trick-or-treating for candy, but Latin America and Spain have some unique customs of their own.
Día de los Muertos, or "Day of the Dead", is a three-day celebration in many Spanish-speaking countries that begins on the evening of October 31. The festivities are designed to honor the deceased, who are believed to return to their earthly homes on Halloween. Many families construct an altar for deceased relatives which may include flowers, photographs, and a feast of their favorite foods and drinks. These often feature breads, candies, and other treats in the shape of skulls. Candles are burned to help the dead find their way home. At this time of year, graves are normally repaired, cleaned, and decorated with colorful flowers and streamers. On November 2, the final day of the festivities, the family will gather at their beloved family member's gravesite to picnic and reminisce.
It sounds kind of spooky, but Día de los Muertos is really a special holiday meant to honor the dead. Halloween is meant to be a fun holiday, but I think it would be nice to incorporate some of these customs into your own Halloween celebrations to remember the lives and legacies of lost loved ones. We often forget that Halloween is based upon ancient festivals and religious rituals used to honor the deceased, not just an excuse to get free candy (although that is a nice perk!).
Here are some fun and festive treats to get you in the spirit for Halloween! Be sure to check out the La Muerte cake based upon the upcoming movie The Book of Life, which takes place during Día de los Muertos.