domingo, 4 de noviembre de 2012

Celebrating Day of the Dead

 Ever since we're gotten back from Indiana, each mealtime has been the forum for Serious Questions.  Deep Questions--down where the fish ain't got no eyes.

Who's God?

Why did he make us?

Why do we die?

Why did your Grandma die?

Clara with the decorated Pan de Muerto
Am I going to die?

Is Papa going to die?

Now, these last couple aren't asked in any kind of fear.  Just idle curiosity.  And very persistent curiosity, at that, as they're asked quite frequently.

But all this curiosity is well timed, as November 2ed is known as the Day of the Dead throughout Mexico.  It's pretty much like Memorial Day in the US, just honoring civilians.  Well, veterans can be remembered, too . . . it's an all-inclusive holiday. I've posted on Day of the Dead other years, but this is the first time we celebrated it as a family. 

First of all, throughout October, pan de muerto, loosely translated as Dead Bread is sold at all bakeries.  I buy pan de muerto a little obsessively--basically as often as I go to the grocery store.  It has an alluring, flowery taste that has had me baffled for years.  What is it that makes pan de muerto taste like flowers?  (The scent of flowers, if that describes it better.)  I found a recipe in my yeast package and it turns out that that flowery taste is simply orange extract.

Decorating the Dead Bread
Biggest letdown of the year.

Since we eat pan de muerto so often throughout October, I wanted our pan de muerto on the actually Day of the Dead to be something special, so I tried that recipe and made it myself.  It was wonderful, and a lot of fun to make.

It just wasn't quite like store bought Dead Bread.  (In my defense, the recipe was a little vague.  And I let it rise waaaay to long.)

But it was very, very good--almost like cake.  I'll make it again next year.  It'll just be redefined as "my" pan de muerto.  

a traditional altar (NOT at my house)
Furthermore, as Clara has been asking questions about my grandparents and Mario's grandpa, I decided that we could make a scaled-down Day of the Dead altar.  These are set up in people's homes to remember loved ones.  

On the right is a traditional Day of the Dead altar, remembering one person.

Below is our "altar".  We're all about simplicity here.

Mario's kind of weird about funerals and Day of the Dead, so I didn't know how he'd feel about me making a Day of the Dead altar.  At the same time, I knew it was a valuable teaching moment for Clara, so I went ahead with it anyway, knowing he'd be weirded out about it if I talked with him first.  And when Clara proudly showed it to him, he actually seemed pleased! 

"Oh wow--it's like an altar!"  I translated that to be a pleased version of, "Oh wow--we're teaching our kids to be Mexican, too!"

So we'll keep doing this.  I do enjoy the day. 

Our little "altar"

1 comentario :

I'm the Mami dijo...

I have to admit, I saw the photo of the first alter and my jaw dropped! Like , WOW! Tis lady is dedicated to teaching her kiddos traditions of both cultures!

I love
Day of the Day. Such a beautiful holiday, and a great way to keep our loved ones who arent with us here on earth stillin our homes and hearts. Love it!

And your pan looks fabulous!