Next weekend is for celebrating at our house; Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos.
My girls are so excited that next week is Halloween. It’s their favorite holiday. It’s the magical time of year when the air is crisp, the leaves are changing colors and the world has suddenly become a more beautiful place of crimson, caramels and golden yellows and we all get to be anyone or thing we want to be for one day, the only limitation is our imagination. I think I’d like to be a unicorn!
As a Latina, it also means it’s time to start preparing for Dia de Los Muertos. Thanks to the new movie Book of Life, I’ve decided that this is the perfect year to teach my girls about Dia de Los Muertos. It’s part of our Mexican heritage. They’ve seen the sugar skulls but I’ve never explained the celebration because death is such a touchy subject for children. This is the year I tell them all about it so that they can celebrate too.
Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday that lasts for 2 days, November 1-November 2, November 1st is Dia de los Inocentes, honoring children who have died. In preparation of the holiday, the graves are cleaned and those of the children are decorated with white orchids and baby’s breath. November 2nd is Dia de los Muertos, honoring adults, their graves are decorated with bright orange marigolds. On Dia de los Muertos we honor our dead with festivals and celebrations; it’s a marriage of indigenous Aztec ritual and Catholicism.
We believe that our dead loved ones would be insulted by mourning or sadness, so on Dia de los Muertos we celebrate the lives of the deceased with food, drink, parties and activities that they dead enjoyed in their life.
I like that Dia de los Muertos recognizes death as a natural part of the human experience, a continuum with birth, childhood, and growing up. On Dia de los Muertos, the dead are also a part of the community, awakened from their eternal sleep to share celebrations with loved ones. It’s a very healthy way to look at death and takes away some of the fear of the unknown.
The most familiar symbol of Dia de los Muertos are the calacas and Calaveras (skeletons and skulls), which appear everywhere during the holiday: in candied sweets, as parade masks and even as dolls. Calacas and calaveras are almost always portrayed as enjoying life, often in fancy clothes and entertaining situations.
In addition to celebrations, the dead are honored on Dia de los Muertos with ofrendas—small, personal altars honoring one person. Ofrendas often have flowers, candles, food, drinks, photos, and personal mementos of the person being remembered. For example, if I were to make an alter for my Uncle Ramon it would include lots of sweets and Rompope ( Mexican eggnog) because I remember when we were little he had a sweet tooth and always had candy on him and if he came during the holidays, he always brought Rompope.
Here is a recipe for Dia de los Muertos Cheesecake
- 16 graham crackers, finely ground (2 cups)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
- 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup International Delight eggnog
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Cinnamon for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray. Stir together graham crackers, sugar, brown sugar, nutmeg and melted butter. Press into bottom and up sides of pan using a fork. Bake until crust is just brown around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool.
- Meanwhile, beat cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add the remaining sugar, eggs, yolk, eggnog, flour, brandy, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt; beat until smooth. Pour filling over crust. Set pan on a cookie sheet. Bake just until set, 45 minutes. Let cool for about 30 minutes. Refrigerate overnight.
- Slice into 8 slices.
- Top with a dollop of whipped cream.
- Lightly dust top with cinnamon just before serving.
- Enjoy with those you love.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of International Delight. The opinions and text are all mine.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of International Delight. The opinions and text are all mine. Later this week, I will be posting a tutorial on how to do the day of the dead make-up my brother and I are wearing in the photo above.
What’s your favorite Halloween/ Dia de Los Muertos tradition?