dia de los muertos 30 October 2009Posted by marisacat in Border Issues, California / Pacific Coast, Mexico, San Francisco, Viva La Revolucion!.
A San Francisco Day of the Dead installation from November 2, 2008. [link to site]
I also found this charming guide to making your own altar to the departed:
Following are some objects to consider when creating a Day of the Dead Altar. Those marked with an asterisk (*) are central to a traditional Mexican Day of the Dead altar.
* Portrait of the Virgin Guadalupe, Patron Saint of Mexico
o the cempasuchil flower or orange marigold, which is considered the traditional Aztec flower of the Toltec goddess, Xochiquetazl, the guardian of the graves.*
o Trail of Cempasuchil flowers to lead the dead to the home and altar
o baby’s breath
o wild purple orchids
o white amaryllis
* Traditionally orange has been the color of the dead along with purple, white, gold, black, and pink, as seen in the other important flowers
* Copal in an incense burner. Copal is a tree resin, sweetened by mixing it with sage and grass. If copal is not available, use any incense.*
* Water, in case the spirits are thirsty from their long journey.*
* Photographs of loved ones.*
* Food. Some Mexican food such as tamales, mole, beans, tacos, tortillas, and salsa as well as special U.S. foods preferred by the departed. Fruits and squashes, pumpkins, etc. can be added as well.* You can also use our recipes for the pan de muerto [see below!], which is very traditional.
* Soft drinks such as Coca-Cola, Orange Crush, etc.; you can also purchase Jarritos, a Mexican soda, at your local Latino store.
* Toys and candy for children.
* Money to remind us that even if we need money we must also be generous with it.
* Other religious symbols such as crosses and icons of saints.
* Candles of all sizes.
* The votive candles found in many Mexican stores which have Catholic saints on them may be appropriate and lend an authentic touch.
Other altar traditions from pre-Columbian times are:
* A frog, which generally represents fertility and also represents the twilight of each day.
* A feather of a rooster to remind us of dawn.
* A mirror to remember the duality of life and death.
* Calaveras, or skulls.* In pre-Columbian times the skulls were symbols of death and sacrifice. They are now satirical and comic.
By using four levels for the altar and the objects listed below you can incorporate some important Aztec symbolism:
* 4 seasons
* 4 directions of the earth
* 4 stages of life (corn in its four stages representing birth, childhood, adult life, and death)
* 4 elements (wind-flute, fire-candles, water-shell, and earth-seeds)
… and a recipe for Pan de Muerto, a Mexican sweet bread for the altar. (If only I could boil water, I’d give it a try…)
…. AND a true, from scratch, fruit and fresh sugar cane punch:
- 12 quarts water
- 10 ounces tejocotes (or peaches)
- 9 ounces prunes
- 5 ounces pecans
- 4 pieces sugarcane
- 6 oranges
- 10 guavas
- 3 sticks cinnamon
- 2 lb. sugar
- 1 quart sugarcane spirit, brandy or rum (traditional, but may be omitted)
- Cut the sugar cane into strips, wash the fruit thoroughly and cut the guavas into pieces. Boil in the water with the sugar cane, tejocotes (apricots or peaches may be substituted), prunes and cinnamon.
When cooked, add the sugar. Remove from heat and add the brandy.
Again, if I could boil water… I’d literally kill for some Mexican sweet bread and a lovely home-cooked liquor – alcoholic or other – made from sugar cane and fresh guava.
Los Angeles Day of the Dead celebrations:
Dia de los Muertos – November 1, 2008 – Sixth Street – Austin Texas: