recipes & how tos | oct. 19, 2021

Día de Muertos Traditions & Celebrations

Día de Muertos or Day of the Dead” is approaching. Each year it is celebrated as a way of remembering and honoring family members who have passed; whose spirit and energy live on through brilliant colors, memories, memorials, and so much more. The holiday serves as a reminder of the eventual arrival of death but is viewed not with an impending sense of worry but with reverence, as the memories of those who have passed on are celebrated and shared. Through marigolds, favored dishes, festival-like celebrations, among other traditions, those who have passed are invited back as a form of family reunion.


To give us personal perspectives of the many ways Día de Muertos can be celebrated, we’re sharing stories and styles of remembrance offered up by previous Global Patrón Perfectionists Finalist Rodo Fregoso and Tequila Patrón Brand Ambassador José Luis Gutiérrez Ibarra. Read on to learn how they mark the holiday and what it means to their communities and families. 

Q&A with Rodo Fregoso, Bartender at Makal // Patrón Perfectionist Finalist // Guadalajara, Mexico 2019

What does the Day of the Dead mean to you? To your community? Friends and family?
For me and my family, the Day of the Dead is a special day in which we celebrate the memory of our loved ones who have passed on. It is the opportunity to remember them with love and offer a tribute to them. We remember our family, friends and people we once admired.

Do you celebrate Day of the Dead? If so, in what ways do you celebrate or acknowledge it?
Every year between November 1st and 2nd we celebrate it. Days before, we prepared an ALTAR, where we place some elements such as salt, ash, colorful papers, marigolds and various flowers, candles, water, bread of the dead, foods that were to the liking of the deceased person and a photograph of the same. This altar can be made in the home of the deceased person, in your own home, in any public space that is permitted or in schools, offices, among others.

Another way to celebrate it is to go to the cemetery where the remains of our loved one rest to clean the graves, decorate with flowers, photographs and religious elements, and have the whole family to share the experiences we had with that loved one.
In school they teach us the tradition, and when the day arrives, as a tribute we make altars for characters in Mexican history who have passed away.


Tell us about a tradition around the Day of the Dead that is meaningful to you or that you would like to highlight.
The Day of the Dead as we know it now is a mixture of our indigenous culture and European culture (Christianity), however, our ancestors had a very different concept of death than ours, they did not talk about heaven and hell like now they were not afraid of dying, they said that death was the beginning of a new one in Mictlán, where people who died, lived together in peace and tranquility among themselves, waiting for the moment to receive us, the living.

It is said that the Day of the Dead is the only day where there is a very strong connection between the world of the living and the world of the dead, and that offerings are placed on altars to receive the dead who come to visit us. They put water because they come thirsty, and their favorite dishes are presented in case they are hungry.


Is there a musician or music that you normally associate with this holiday? What is it?
String instruments could be associated with the holiday in general, but I would say that the music is more associated with the tastes of the person who passed.


What flavors do you associate with the Day of the Dead?
Orange, mandarin, marigold, orange blossom, cinnamon, chocolate, vanilla, coffee, mole, atole.


Do you have a recipe you can share?
We would love to present each and every one of the recipes related to this holiday, especially if something is meaningful or is a family tradition. It can be food or drink, any level of difficulty. You can follow something that has been posted somewhere or just write it down.

Pan de muerto

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon of yeast

4 cups of flour 

14 cups of water, warm

7 eggs

1 teaspoon of salt

12 cups of sugar

125 grams of butter

Sugar


Preparation:

Preheat the oven 180ºC. Mix the yeast with water and a teaspoon of sugar. Make sure that there are no lumps and that the mixture is homogeneous. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, 6 eggs, melted butter together with the yeast and sugar mixture. Knead the mixture into a dough. Put the dough in a container and cover it.

Let the dough set for 1 hour until it doubles in volume. Separate 13 of the dough to make the bones. With the rest of the dough, form a ball.

With the dough that was reserved, form the bones, a ball and add them to the ball. Varnish the bread with the egg and put it in the oven for 40 minutes. Take out the bread and sprinkle with sugar. Return it to the oven for 10 more minutes. Take it out and serve.



What else would you like to share about this holiday? How is it celebrated? What do people know about it? What would you like people to understand?

According to current tradition there are different days to celebrate the dead according to the type of death they suffered:

October 28: people who died by murder or tragically

October 30 and 31: children who died in the womb or newborns

November 1: children and young people up to 17 years of age and people who lived (according to religion) an exemplary life.

November 2: The day of the dead is celebrated by the rest and the vast majority.




En Español


¿Qué significa Dia de Muertos para ti? ¿A tu comunidad? ¿Amigos y familia?
Para mí y mi familia el Día de Muertos es un día especial en el que celebramos por el recuerdo de nuestros seres queridos que ya murieron. La oportunidad de recordarlos con amor y ofrecer un homenaje hacía ellos. Recordamos a nuestros familiares, amigos y gente que alguna vez admiramos.


¿Celebras Dia? Si es así, ¿de qué maneras lo celebras o lo reconoces?
Cada año entre el 1 y 2 de noviembre lo celebramos. Días antes preparamos un ALTAR, en donde colocamos algunos elementos como sal, ceniza, papeles coloridos, cempasúchil y flores diversas, velas, agua, pan de muerto, alimentos que eran del agrado de la persona fallecida y una fotografía de la misma. Dicho altar puede ser realizado en la casa de la persona fallecida, en tu propia casa, en algún espacio público que sea permitido o en escuelas, oficinas, entre otros.

Otra manera de celebrarlo es ir al panteón a donde reposan los restos de nuestro ser querido para limpiar las tumbas, adornar con flores, fotografías y elementos religiosos, y tener a toda la familia para compartir las experiencias que tuvimos con ese ser amado.

En las escuelas nos enseñan desde niños la tradición, y cuando se llega el día, a manera de homenaje realizamos altares para personajes de la historia mexicana que ya murieron.


Cuéntenos acerca de una tradición en torno a Dia que sea significativa para usted o que le gustaría destacar.
El día de muertos como lo conocemos ahora es una mezcla de nuestra cultura indígena y la cultura europea (el cristianismo), sin embargo, nuestros antepasados tenían un concepto de la muerte muy diferente al nuestro, no se hablaba del cielo y el infierno como ahora, no le tenían miedo a morir, decían que la muerte era el principio de una nueva en Mictlán, donde las personas que morían convivían en paz y tranquilidad entre ellos esperando el momento para recibirnos a nosotros los vivos.

Se dice que el día de muertos es el único día dónde existe una conexión muy fuerte entre el mundo de los vivos y el mundo de los muertos, y que se colocan las ofrendas en los altares para recibir a los muertos que vienen a visitarnos, que se pone agua porque vienen sedientos, y se presentan sus platillos favoritos por si tienen hambre.

Hay música o músico que normalmente asocias con Dia? ¿Qué es? Si puede vincular a algo, ¡aún mejor!
Se podrían asociar los instrumentos de cuerdas con la festividad en general, pero yo diría que la música se asocia más con los gustos de la persona que murió.


¿Qué sabores asocia con Dia?
La naranja, mandarina, el cempasúchil, el azahar, canela, chocolate, vainilla, café, mole, atole.



¿Tienes alguna receta que puedas compartir?

Nos encantaría presentar todas y cada una de las recetas que esté dispuesto a compartir relacionadas con Dia, especialmente si algo es significativo para usted, lo prepara o es una tradición familiar. Puede ser comida o bebida, cualquier nivel de dificultad. Puede vincular a algo que se haya publicado en algún lugar o simplemente escribirlo.



Pan de muerto



Ingredientes:

1 cucharadita de levadura

4 tazas de harina 

14 tazas de agua, tibia 

7 huevos

1 cucharadita de sal 

12 tazas de azúcar 

125 gramos de mantequilla — azúcar



Preparación:


Precalentar el horno 180ºC. Mezclar la levadura con agua y una cucharadita de azúcar. Asegurarse de que no queden grumos y que la mezcla quede homogénea. En un recipiente aparte mezclar la harina, la sal, 6 huevos, la mantequilla derretida junto con la mezcla de levadura y azúcar. Amasar la mezcla hasta formar una masa. Poner la masa en un recipiente y taparlo.

Dejar reposar la masa por 1 hora hasta que duplique su volumen. Separar 13 de la masa para hacer los huesos. Con el resto de la masa formar una bola.

Con la masa que se reservó formar los huesos, una bolita y agregarlos a la bola. Barnizar el pan con el huevo y meterlo al horno por 40 minutos. Sacar el pan y espolvorear con azúcar. Regresarlo al horno 10 minutos más. Sacarlo y servir.


¿Qué más te gustaría compartir sobre Dia? ¿Cómo se celebra? ¿Qué sabe la gente al respecto? ¿Qué le gustaría que entendiera más gente?

Según la tradición actual existen distintos días para celebrar a los muertos según el tipo de muerte que sufrieron:

28 de octubre: personas que murieron por asesinato o de manera trágica

30 y 31 de octubre: niños que murieron en el vientre o recién nacidos

1 de noviembre: niños y jóvenes hasta los 17 años y personas que vivieron (según la religión) una vida ejemplar.

2 de noviembre; EL dia de los muertos, se celebra al resto y la gran mayoría.



¿Tiene algún recurso sobre Dia que le gustaría compartir? Por ejemplo, libros, artículos, blogs, sitios web, recetas, artistas, creadores, etc.

https://www.uv.mx/cienciahombre/revistae/vol25num1/articulos/altar/

https://www.gob.mx/inafed/es/articulos/dia-de-muertos-tradicion-mexicana-que-trasciende-en-el-tiempo?idiom=es

Q&A with Pepe” aka José Luis Gutiérrez Ibarra // Brand Ambassador Tequila Patrón LAC // Bacardí México

What does Dia de Muertos mean to you? To your community? Friends and family?
Día de Muertos mean a lot for the Mexican community. Even if you don’t celebrate in a huge and colorful way, is a time to remember the beloved ones that aren´t with us anymore with lots of love and good memories. For me, my family and friends are a tradition that we have to celebrate every single year.

Do you celebrate Día de Muertos? If so, what are some ways you celebrate or recognize it?
I do celebrate Día de Muertos, is actually one of my favorite’s celebrations. I remember when I was a little kid my family and I used to go to Mazatlan, a city where my grandfather was born. I never had the chance to meet him because he passed away many years before I was born. We normally go to the graveyard of Mazatlan and clean his grave, we bring him his favorite food, flowers, some beer and of course tequila. What I like about this is all the colors and families that are together that day. Normally people don’t know that much about the family that they never meet, but in my case I have the chance to hear my grandmother and my mother every year telling me stories about my grandfather, this is the way I been knowing him since y was a little boy.

Tell us about a tradition around Dia that’s meaningful to you, or that you’d like to highlight.
The altar is actually my favorite tradition around this day and of course the pan de Muertos bread and the hot chocolate.

Is there music or a musician you typically associate with Dia? What is it?
Yeah! Of course, the mariachis, banda and norteños are a huge thing these days but the song that is the most popular is La Llorona. No one is sure who the author is but it was Chavela Vargas who popularized this amazing song. If you don’t know about La Llorona it is a traditional legend in México and is so popular that now the La Llorona is well known in all Hispanics countries. What I like about this song is that there are many styles around them. Here are the different songs I can share with you (click name to access linked Youtube page):

Chavela Vargas

Angela Aguilar

And finally the one that we hear in the movie Coco (In Spanish of course) sing by Angelica Vale and Marco Antonio Solis you can find by clicking here.


What flavors do you associate with Dia?
Chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla, pan de muertos, traditional Mexican food obviously is there, and is amazing because it doesn’t matter what season is of the year — you prepare the recipes that the Muertos like when they were alive.

Do you have any recipes you can share?
Well I love Pan de muerto, so here’s a link that I think will be good to share! Find the recipe here.


What else would you like to share about Dia? How it’s celebrated? What people know about it? What do you wish more folks understood?
People say, Mexicans are always looking for an excuse to celebrate and party,” and they are not wrong. We love to look for these excuses anytime. We have been doing this so much that we even lose the fear to celebrate death instead of crying over it. But besides the party, I wish people understood that this celebration is a special moment that helps us to remember not just our family, but also it’s a tradition that comes from many years before the Spanish arrived and has been here since memorial times. I’m so thankful that many people nowadays know more about this beautiful tradition that makes us proud of our country. Thank you!

Do you have any resources around Dia you’d like to share? For example, any books, articles, blogs, websites, recipes, artists, makers, etc.
This is a small documentary that I know will give a small guide about dia de Muertos (linked below). Also, if you have the chance to watch Coco the movie is actually a good start. (I’m not kidding, the Pixar crew really did their homework.) And talking about books in English, here’s a good option: The Days of the Dead: Mexico’s Festival of Communion With the Departed.”


A special thank you to Rodo Fregoso and José Luis Gutiérrez Ibarra for sharing their memories, and for shining a light on their celebrations. For more educational content, make sure to check out other Proof Reads, and follow us on Instagram @academia_patron. Cheers!

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