In many countries, life and longevity rate a celebration. In Mexico], it’s the dearly departed who get feted during Day of the Dead in early November, and it’s among the country’s biggest celebration. Celebrants set up altars for their loved ones who have died, complete with favorite things to lure the souls back.
But it’s the foods gracing the altars, including fruits, candy skulls, chunks of candied pumpkin and baked agave, that brings the souls around.
Pan de Muertos, or Day of the Dead bread, dominates the food items. It contains lots of yeast and eggs and bakers form it into shapes like skulls, corpses and cross bones. It sounds gruesome, but once you sprinkle it with sugar or confetti, or dip it in Mexican hot chocolate, it’s downright festive.
These treats may be enjoyed during a picnic at the graveyard, where mariachi bands might stroll by while decorative candles burn. Rather than being a morbid time, Day of the Dead celebrations are full of fondness and appreciation for the departed.
Appreciation of ancestors and living relatives rates high on the Vietnamese celebration on the next page.