Día de los Muertos: Culturally DOA but a Bake-Worthy Occasion

Categories: Minervaland

chow_pan_muerto_Fotor.jpg
Minerva Orduno Rincon
Pan de Muerto
My nightmares are filled with the drunken faces of American college kids smeared with paint depicting garish skulls, twisted toothy grins, hollow cheekbones, black pools of pain for eyes . . . Death isn't the scary part here, it's the ever increasing popularity of the Day of the Dead and its related imagery in American pop culture -- and its identification with all things Mexican. Spring fills me with dread waiting for the 5th of May to come and go, with its cheap sombreros and fiesta promoting beer commercials. Fall now brings craft store advertisements promoting discounts on Day of the Dead face painting kits. If the reduction of a 3,000-year-old pre-Columbian tradition into a sale promo doesn't fill you with nightmares, you're made of sturdier stuff than me.

Let's get back to basics and learn more about the Día de los Muertos, and Pan de Muertos, a simple baked offering for the departed.

See also: Why Cinco de Mayo is No Holiday in Minervaland

To clarify, the actual day of Day of the Dead is not October 31, but rather November 2, known in the Catholic world as All Souls Day; this is hardly a coincidence. Mesoamerican cultures had a longstanding tradition of festivities honoring dead family members -- celebrating their lives, not their deaths. The kin were remembered by the presence of their preserved skulls, and it just so neatly happened that the terminus of these celebrations (which were more than a month long and seemingly garish but actually rather cheerful) nearly coincided with All Souls Day.

Just as pagan celebrations in Rome were converted to Christian ones, so were Mesoamerican celebrations Catholicized in the Catholic colonization and conversion of the region.

This being said, like all things in Mexico, the Day of the Dead celebrations are very regional. Southern states, those areas occupied by Mayan, Aztec, Toltec, etc., cultures, still continue the tradition, those preserved skulls now replaced with decorated sugar skulls, of course. Northern Mexican states are really not as interested in these celebrations.

With the brief history lesson over, it's time to bake an offering for the departed, and to enjoy in their memory.

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13 comments
lovecinnamon
lovecinnamon

Actually we celebrate this festivity from the 31th of October to the 2nd of November, 

Can you please write the name of the tradition right? is Día de muertos, with an accent in the í and lacks the "los". Please.

Lisa Jasper
Lisa Jasper

And btw E.G. the Romans never set foot in Ireland and the cultural holiday doesn't have anything to do with Satan. So tired of fundamentalists that try to rewrite the history of our cultures!

Lisa Jasper
Lisa Jasper

The Spanish invaders of Ireland brought our some of our traditions with them when they invaded Mexico. Aztecs and Mayans also had similar celebrations of thier ancestors.

Lisa Jasper
Lisa Jasper

We also celebrate for days that includes All Souls/Saints Day.

Lisa Jasper
Lisa Jasper

Halloween/Samhain is an Irish holiday that has been celebrated for thousands of years. Educate yourselves.

Emanuel Gonzalez
Emanuel Gonzalez

10/31/1517 Martin Luther nails the 95 Thesis to the door of a Catholic Church and starts the reformation and also the renaissance period, bringing and end to the dark ages. That's the most important event ever in world history occurring on 10/31. Since then, cleverly, lucifer has brought other events or festivities to the forefront i.e. Halloween, day of the dead, and other pagan dates on 10/31. The goal, to push the day of freedom from Roman oppression and true religious freedom from our memories. So far, satan's plan is working perfectly. Keep dressing your kids up like demons, ghouls, devils, & monsters... While ignoring the light that was brought to the world on that great and marvelous day.

Megan Bush
Megan Bush

America: Where people pick and choose what they like about Mexicans.

Malinda Santiago
Malinda Santiago

Yes, it is for Mexico and other Spanish or Latin countries, but for America, it is October 31.

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