After the trick or treating is over, the traditional Mexican celebration of Dia
de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) will just be swinging into full force.
According to traditional Mexican culture, Nov. 1 and 2 are days
to be with, and celebrate the lives of friends and relatives who have died
within the past year.
El Centro Student Services is celebrating the Day of the Dead from noon to 1:30
p.m. on campus in their office, located in room 178 of the Lory Student Center.
Everyone is welcome at their cultural awareness celebration, which features a
traditional celebratory alter as well as the informative video “La Ofrenda”.
Many of the Mexican American students on campus plan to celebrate Day of the Dead in addition to the traditional American holiday of Halloween.
“Being here in the U.S. there is an obvious Halloween influence, but we always
recognized Dia de los Muertos in my family,” sophomore political science major
Manuel Escobar said. “At home we would build altars remembering our families.”
Traditional Mexican celebrations involve a feast in the early morning of Nov. 2,
a family meal serving traditional food such as the pan de muerto (bread of the
dead), and gifts of sugar skulls or other tokens with a death related theme.
“Some may look at it as being morbid and say ‘The dead are dead, let
them go,'” said Manny Trevino, a CASAE adjunct instructor. “But it is important to
see how Mexican people represent themselves from someplace besides the media,
which totally distorts our cultures and traditions.”
In Mexican culture, it is important to know where the dead are buried and care
for them because while the dead are no longer physically present, they are
believed to still have a spiritual presence in the lives of the living.
Day of the Dead is a celebration born hundreds of years ago, when the indigenous cultures of Mexico merged with Spanish Catholicism.
Celebration of Day of the Dead among Mexican American’s is more prevalent the closer the families are to Mexico, both geographically and chronologically, as it
pertains to immigration.
“It was not a tradition in my family growing up since we have been here for
generations,” said Pancho McFarland, a CASAE adjunct instructor.
Generally speaking, observance of Day of the Dead is more prevalent in the
Southern states because they are closer to Mexico and more prevalent in families
that immigrated more recently because they are more attuned to Mexican culture.
Trevino believes families from Mexico tend to trade their traditions for more
Americanized ones because of pressure from white culture. “A lot of
celebrations die off because to be successful here you have to be like the
dominant society.” Trevino said.
Even though Mexican American’s who have been in the United States for generations may not practice traditions on a regular basis, new waves of immigration will prevent the Mexican culture from ever completely dying out in America.
“As long as our society is proletariat, we are going to have people coming in
from Mexico, and they are going to bring their culture with them,” Trevino said.
In large Mexican cities such as Oaxaca, Day of the Dead is an all-out festival.
“In parts of Mexico where it is still traditional it is a total week of
celebration,” Trevino said. “It looks like a Mardi Gras.”
* 1/2-cup butter
* 1/2-cup milk
* 1/2-cup water
* 5 to 5-1/2 cups flour
* 2 packages dry yeast
* 1-teaspoon salt
* 1-tablespoon whole anise seed
* 1/2-cup sugar
* 4 eggs
In a saucepan over medium flame, heat the butter, milk and water until very warm
but not boiling.
Meanwhile, measure out 1-1/2 cups flour and set the rest aside. In a large
mixing bowl, combine the 1-1/2 cups flour, yeast, salt, anise seed and sugar.
Beat in the warm liquid until well combined. Add the eggs and beat in another 1
cup of flour. Continue adding more flour until dough is soft but not sticky.
Knead on lightly floured board for ten minutes until smooth and elastic.
Lightly grease bowl and place dough in it, cover with plastic wrap and let
rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours. Punch the dough
down and shape into loaves resembling skulls, skeletons or round loaves with
“bones” placed ornamentally around the top. Let these loaves rise for 1 hour.
Bake in a preheated 350 F degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and paint
* 1/2-cup sugar
* 1/3-cup fresh orange juice
* 2 tablespoons grated orange zest
Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, and then apply to bread with a pastry brush.
If desired, sprinkle on colored sugar while glaze is still damp.
Source: The Electronic Gourmet Guide