This is an important social ritual that the Latino people see as a way of recognizing the cycle of life and death that is human existence. In certain areas, an all-night candlelight vigil takes place by the graves of the family members. The whole occasion is festive, and everyone talks of the dead as if they were still alive. During this time, people remember, re-live, and enjoy rather than fearing evil or malevolent spirits. Some Mexican families spend hours in the cemetery near the grave of the dearly departed, where they clean the grave, plant flowers, have a picnic and hire musicians to sing a favorite song of the deceased.
The traditional food of the day, pan de muerto, a sweet yolk bread sprinkled with sugar, is of European origin. It is said to be good luck to be the one who bites into the plastic toy skeleton hidden by the baker in each loaf. The “calavera” (skull) is a humorously morbid poem which is addressed to a friend or public figure. This genre of poetry has its origin in Cervantes’ Don Quixote, in early 17th century Spain. Candy in the shape of small sugar skulls are meant to be consumed signifying eating one’s death. Read more…..