Celebrating The Day of the Dead has a long history in Mexican Tradition. The Day of the dead is celebrated on November 2nd. Sometime one hears reference to “the days of the Dead” which refers to the Days of October 31 – November 2. October 31 is Halloween or All Hallows eve. November 1 is “el Dia de los innnocentes” or the day of the children and All Saints Day. November second is All Souls Day or the Day of the Dead.
What is the Dia de Muertos?
Dia de los Muertos—the Day of the Dead—is a holiday celebrated on November 1. Although marked throughout Latin America, Dia de los Muertos is most strongly associated with Mexico, where the tradition originated
How do they celebrate the Day of the Dead in Mexico?
Altars are usually decorated with flowers, candles, pan de muerto, ceramic skulls, and Celebrating The Day of the Dead has a long history in Mexican Tradition. The Day of the dead is celebrated on November 2nd. Sometime one hears reference to “the days of the Dead” which refers to the Days of October 31 – November 2. October 31 is Halloween or All Hallows eve. November 1 is “el Dia de los innnocentes” or the day of the children and All Saints Day. November second is All Souls Day or the Day of the Dead.
What is the Mexican sugar skull?
Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday, celebrated on the 1st and 2nd November in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saint’s Day and All Hollow’s Day. The festivities start at midnight on the 31st October. Sugar skulls are often used to decorate the gravestones of the deceased.
How do you celebrate the Day of the Dead?
What is the Dia de Muertos?
Why is it called a sugar skull?
How was the Day of the Dead started?
Who celebrates Day of the Dead in the world?
What happened on the day of the dead?
What is the Day of the Dead altar?
What items are placed on the ofrenda?
Dia de los Muertos – It sounds so mysterious, Mexico’s celebration for when dead relatives, both young and old, are allowed to return to the mortal world for two days to visit loved ones. Spirits coming down and walking among the living, sampling earthly treats and joining in the festival … it sounds like a merry version of our Halloween holiday.
But instead of scary goblins and blood curdling shrieks, the people in Mexico welcome the spirits of their families with the delicious smell of food in the air, tasty candies decorated like skulls, and lighted candles to guide them home again. Gravestones are decorated, and the whole family will gather in the graveyard to await and pay respects to the deceased.
Follow the links below to learn all about this unique Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos. For the truly adventurous there is information on how to arrange tours to the more colorful events in Mexico and to take part in the celebrations.
Day of the Dead face painting: Meaning, history, how to transform yourself
What colors, symbols mean
Dia de los Muertos is known for its vibrant colors. Here are meanings behind some of the colors and symbols you’d see on Dia de los Muertos, according to Annalisa Rios.
Yellow – Represents the sun and unity, because under the sun, we’re all the same.
White – Using this color in decorations represents spirit, hope and purity.
Red – Represents blood and life.
Purple – For this holiday, purple represents mourning, grief and suffering.
Pink – The bubbly color signifies happiness.
Marigolds – People spread petals from these round, yellow-orange flowers to guide spirits of loved ones to the celebration.
Ofrendas – Altars that are festively adorned with decorations, candles, food and photographs.
Calavera – Sugar skulls that are created to resemble the deceased.
How to Paint a Sugar Skull… On Your Face!
– Black eyeliner pencil
– MAC Chromaline Pods (we used Hi-Def Cyan, Rich Purple, Primary Yellow, Black Black, and Landscape Green)
– Kryolan Shadow Palette
– MAC Glitter Pigments (we used Crystalled Blue, Crystalled Orange, Crystalled Green, and Crystalled Pink)
– GOSH Eyeliners (we used Purple Satin, Hot Flamingo, and Intense Blue)
– Your regular “dress-up” makeup (for the non-skull half of your face)
– sponge brushes
After each step, always set the color with a matching powder. This will ensure nothing smudges!
. Start with a clean face. Apply normal makeup to half of your face.
2. Paint a white line down the middle of your face.
3. Fill in the entire white side with white face makeup or face paint.
4. Apply blue eyeshadow to the eyelid.
5. Use the blue paint pod and tiny brush to draw the shape of a flower around the whole eye. Fill in with paint and set with shadow.
6. Outline the flower petals with blue liner pen.
7. Use a black eyeliner pencil to draw a circle around the edge of the flower.
8. Fill in the flower and set with black shadow.
10. Using paint paint, draw a flower on your forehead on the unpainted side of your face.
11. Add a yellow dot in the middle.
12. Add green leaves!
13. Use black eyeliner to outline the petals, leaves, and yellow center of the flower.
14. Draw on a spiderweb using black eyeliner right in the middle of your forehead. Set with shadow.
15. For the eyebrow, draw a swirling brow above the blue flower and set with shadow.
16. Outline the lips using black liner.
17. Continue with the liner to create a skeleton-like line extending from the mouth to the ear.
18. Add a purple flower (with yellow center) to the chin.
How To Do Day Of The Dead / Dia De Los Muertos Makeup
Day of the Dead Cookies Recipe
- 1-1/4 cups butter, softened
- 1-3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 ounces almond paste
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup 2% milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 packages (12 ounces each) white Wilton candy melts
- Red Wilton candy melts, melted
- Decorations of your choice: jumbo sprinkles, peppermint candies, candy-coated sunflower kernels, Skittles, Twizzlers Rainbow Twists and Good & Plenty candies
- Black paste food coloring
- In a large bowl, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy; add almond paste. Beat in the egg, milk and vanilla. Combine flour and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-in. thickness. Cut out with a floured 5-in. skull-shaped cookie cutter. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.
- Bake at 375° for 7-9 minutes or until firm. Let stand for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
- In a large, shallow microwave-safe dish, melt white candy melts according to package directions. Dip top side of each cookie into coating, allowing excess to drip off; place on waxed paper. Immediately place a few drops of melted red candy melts on cheeks of skull; swirl with a toothpick.
- Add decorations as desired. Tint remaining white coating black; pipe on eyes and mouth. Let stand until set. Yield: 1 dozen
How To Make Calaveras For Dia De Los Muertos: Sugar Skulls
Ingredients for sugar skulls / calavera:
- 6- cups granulated sugar
- 6 – teaspoons meringue powder
- 6 – teaspoons water
That amount made 5 large skulls total. A little bigger then my clinched fist.
Ingredients for royal icing:
- 4 – cups powdered sugar
- 3 – tablespoons meringue powder
- 6 – tablespoons warm water
Other supplies you may use:
- colored foil paper
- soda pop tops
- First mix granulated sugar and meringue powder together.
- Then slowly drizzle with water. The mixture should feel like beach sand.
- Firmly pack sugar into mold, making sure there are no bubbles.
- Scrape the back of the sugar mold with a knife for an even surface.
- Invert the sugar mold onto a hard surface.
- Let the skulls dry for 8 hours.
- Once the skulls are hard enough to touch, use a spoon and scoop out the middle, it should still be soft enough to scoop. Leave a 1/2 inch thick wall around the edge. (I made more calaveras with the extra sugar)
- Allow the hollowed skulls to dry for an additional 15 hours or overnight.
- Make royal icing: Mix powdered sugar, meringue powder, and warm water together. A thick paste will form. According to the amount of colors you’d like to use, divide the icing into that amount of separate bowls and color with concentrated paste food coloring of your choice. Then place each color in it’s own disposable piping bag fitted with a decorative metal tip.
- Then using a white royal icing trace along the lines of the two pieces of skull that come together. Make sure no to pipe the neck with royal icing.
- Align the two pieces together and allow to dry before decorating.
- Decorate the face as you desire. Some calavera have decorative eyes, and other use an inside down heart for the nose.
How to make sugar skull-inspired cake pops
Once the cake and frosting are well mixed, form a ball with the dough on top of a cake pop stick. You can also use a cute, decorative ice pop stick or straw instead of a cake pop stick — whatever you have around.
Squeeze this “dough” with your hands to get it to hold well to the stick. This is where you would be finished with a regular cake pop, but since we are making skeletons, you’ll start to form that dough (while it’s on the stick) into the shape of a skeleton. Form a circular head and then a square jaw to get the general shape of a skull.
Now it’s time to melt some white chocolate and dip the skulls into it. White chocolate can be a bit touchy and tends to harden a lot more quickly than dark or milk chocolate. However, if you use a high-quality white chocolate and are patient, it can make some beautiful skeleton cake pops.
I separated the white chocolate into 2 batches, melting 1 cup at a time. I used vegetable oil to thin out the chocolate, but you can also use shortening. I have had the most success in melting white chocolate in the microwave. That said, it can burn and get ruined very easily. If you are patient and stir it frequently, you can avoid it burning. I like to microwave it for 30 seconds and then stir for at least 30 seconds. A lot of melting will happen outside of the microwave; it just requires patience for that melting to happen.
If it starts to harden while you are dipping, then just microwave it for another 5 to 10 seconds, and add a little bit more vegetable oil if needed.
Dip the cake pop into the white chocolate, and coat it until the whole thing is covered. Then tap the cake pop against the edge of the bowl to remove any excess white chocolate.
Place the cake pop onto a sheet of parchment paper to dry before decorating it.
Day of the Dead drink: Alcoholic & non alcoholic drinks!
Inspired by Day of the Dead we’ve put together some party drink recipes. These include Raspberry Mojitos, Juan Collins, Tequila Sunrise & a yummy Spicy Mulled Wine, perfect to offer party guests on their arrival.
These day of the dead drinks are our non-alcoholic offerings. They include the refreshing Agua Menta Naranja and delicious Mexican Lemonade with cilantro and chile peppers for those who are brave enough!
Setting up a party bar – El Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead drinks!
Decorate with a skull garland or papel picado
Stock your bar with:
plenty of glasses
a bucket of ice
Cocktail recipes (laminated if you’re feeling uber efficient!)
Spirits and mixers (if it is a b.y.o.b. party you could let guests
know which cocktails you have in mind).
A few cocktail terms and techniques:
In cocktail terms, muddling is the crushing of fruit or herbs, to allow the flavours to be released. You can use a a pestle or even the end of a rolling pin. Push down with a twisting action.
To salt a glass, cut a piece of lime and rub it along the rim. Next pour a 1/4 inch of kosher salt (or a 50:50 mix of salt and fine sugar) on to a saucer or plate large enough to accommodate the entire rim of your glass. Dip the rim of the glass in the salt, twirling it around so that the salt sticks on the entire rim.
Some of these recipes call for crushed ice. Here’s how to make it:
Either crush the cubed ice in a blender or fill a bag with cubed ice and bash with a rolling pin. Display on your bar in an ice bucket with lid.
Traditional Day of the Dead Recipes for Celebrating Día de los Muertos!
Potato Pan De Muerto:
Ingredients for Potato Pan De Muerto:
- 1 – package active yeast
- 1/2 – cup luke warm water
- 1 – teaspoon salt
- 1/2 – cup sugar
- 1 – cup mashed Idaho potatoes ( leftovers work best)
- 1/2 – cup butter (softened)
- 2 – eggs (beaten)
- 3 – cups bread flour plus more for kneading
- olive oil
- Egg wash (1 egg and 1 tablespoon water whisked together)
- Add yeast and water to a mixer, and allow yeast to activate for 10 minutes.
- Pour salt and sugar to the yeast mixture. Give it a good mix.
- Spoon in the mashed potatoes and break them up with a spoon if you need to. Then add in the butter and eggs. Mix to combine to hook attachment.
- Add in the bread flour, one cup at a time until the dough comes together and no longer sticks to the mixer about 5 minutes.
- Generously flour a clean work surface then knead dough until smooth.
- Grease a bowl with a little bit of olive oil. Place dough in greased bowl and turn it once inside to ensure the entire dough is well greased.
- Cover dough with a kitchen towel and let it rise for 2 hours.
- Remove towel and punch down the dough.
- Generously flour a clean work surface then knead dough again until smooth.
- Grease two 8 -inch cake pans and set to the side.
- Divide the dough into equal 3 parts.
- Place two of the parts in each cake pan, and reserve the additional part for decorating.
- Allow the dough to sit for an additional hour before decorating.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- With the extra part, roll the dough out to make bone decorations for the top of the loaf.
- Brush the top of the loaf with egg wash.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Tortillas de Cempazuchitl | Marigold Tortillas
Makes 16, 6-inch tortillas
- 2 cups corn flour
- 1 ¼ cups water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups fresh edible marigold petals
In a large mixing bowl, combine corn flour, water and salt. Mix with hands until smooth. If dough sticks to hands, add water 1 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency.
Heat a comal or skillet over low-medium heat.
Divide dough into 16 separate equal portions and roll each portion into a ball.
Using a tortilla press, flatten each masa ball between to plastic sheets. Open the press and evenly distribute marigold petals on the pressed tortilla. Press the tortilla again gently enough to embed flower petals into the masa.
Place tortilla on hot comal and cook for approximately 1 minute on each side.
Keep tortillas warm in a tortilla warmer or wrapped in a tea towel.
Ingredients for Molletes
- 3 eggs
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 10 small molletes (lard or sweet bread rolls, you can find them in Latino food stores)
- 2 cups of vegetable oil
- ¼ cup raisins
- red sugar for garnish
Ingredients for Custard or Manjar
- 2 ¼ cups of whole milk
- ½ cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons of cornstarch
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Ingredients for Syrup
- 2 cup panela or raw sugar
- 3 cups of water
- ½ cup rum
- zest from one lime
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- 3 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- In a sauce pan over medium heat bring 2 cups of milk, sugar, cinnamon and salt to a boil.
- While milk is heating up mix together cornstarch and ¼ cup cold milk in a bowl.
- Once milk has reached the boiling point reduce heat.
- Take ½ cup of the hot milk and add to the cornstarch, mixing well.
- Pour cornstarch and milk mix back into saucepan and heat stirring constantly until custard thickens.
- Remove from heat and add vanilla mixing well.
- Let cool.
- To make the syrup place the panela or raw sugar, water, lime zest, allspice, cloves, cinnamon stick and rum in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Lower heat.
- While the syrup is heating up cut off the top of each of the molletes (rolls).
- Remove some of the bread creating a cavity in the center of each mollete.
- Place 3-4 raisins inside each mollete .
- Fill with custard and place the lid on, pressing lightly to close it .
- Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
- Add the yolks, flour and sugar and beat for 2 more minutes.
- Heat up the oil in a large pan.
- Dip the stuffed molletes into the egg mixture and carefully place in hot oil.
- Fry for a minute or less on each side until golden.
- Remove from pan and place on a colander, place colander over sink and pour boiling water over them.
- Pat them dry to remove excess water.
- Place the molletes in the syrup and cook over low heat until they are soft.
- Serve warm or cold.
This recipe is needs to be prepared 2-3 days ahead of time. For best results enlist family members in the process, there is a lot of cutting and slicing so make the preparation as well as the meal a family event. When I was I kid I loved putting the fiambre together in layers and decorating the top making faces and fun designs with the chiles, radish roses, baby corn and long slices of cheeses.
Feel free to add or leave out any ingredients you don’t care for, but my advice is leave everything in because once mixed even the things you wouldn’t normally eat by themselves give the dish the overall flavor (like cecina or cow’s tongue) so try to be a little adventurous here!
- ½ lb asparagus
- 6 beets, sliced or julienned
- 6 carrots, sliced or julienned
- 4 cups green beans
- 1 cauliflower, cut in sections
- 1 cabbage, cut in fine long pieces
- 1 lb Brussels sprout
- 2 cups corn (shelled)
- 25 pacayas (found fresh in Latino markets, or use canned)
- 1 jar heart of palm
- 1 jar of pickled baby corn
- 1 jar of pickled baby onions
- 1/2 lb red beans (canned)
- 1/2 lb white beans (canned)
- 1 can chickpeas
- 4 cups green peas
- 1 lb fava beans (fresh)
- 1/lb capers
- ¼ lb green olives
- ¼ lb black olives
- 1 can of pimentos
- 1-2 heads of lettuce
- radish roses for garnish
- ½ lb butifarra (sausage made with anis and other spices)
- ½ lb cecina (dried smoked and salted beef)
- 1 lb chicken (cooked, removed from bone in long strips)
- 1 lb chorizo Colorado (red chorizo sausage, sliced)
- 1 lb black chorizo sausage, sliced
- 1 lb yellow chorizo sausage, sliced
- 1/2 lb hot dog, cooked and sliced
- 1 lb ham, cut in long strips
- ½ lb longaniza (sausage with mint and chile, can use itialian sausage)
- 1 lb mortadella, cut in large cubes
- 1 lb salami, cut in large cubes
- 1 lb hot dog, cut lengthwise
- ½ lb salted cow tongue
EGG AND DAIRY
- 2 eggs (hard boiled)
- 1/2 lb yellow or American chees (cut into strips)
- hard boiled eggs (two hard boiled)
- queso fresco (1 small)
- ½ lb Zacapa cheese (can use good parmesan)
DRESSING OR CALDILLO
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 springs of thyme
- 1 spring of oregano
- 1 quart vinegar
- 1 pint olive oil
- 6 tablespoons mustard (I like using dark grainy mustard)
- 1 teaspoon of pepper
- salt to taste
- 5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon nutmeg
2 Days Before Serving
Each vegetable group will be cooked separately; don’t try to save time by mixing them. Boil the beets until just cooked, but still firm. Boil carrots and green beans together until just done. Boil cauliflower and cabbage. Boil peas, fava beans, and corn.
Boil the chicken and parsley adding salt and pepper to taste . Skim off the fat once it has cooled. To save time you can buy cooked chicken and use store bought broth. Shred the cooked chicken and store. Mix the broth in a blender with vinegar, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper to taste, Worcestershire, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, nutmeg. Simmer for ten minutes then chill overnight.
1 Day Before
Boil the chorizos with butifarras the day before you will be serving the fiambre. Combine all veggies and pour the chicken broth mixture over it. Let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.
Early in the Day
The day you wish to serve the fiambre, place a lettuce leaf on a plate, arrange a layer of the veggie mixture and then add a layer of the meats and cheeses. Repeat at least once and decorate with pimientos, sliced cheese, asparagus, baby corn, radishes, olives, and boiled eggs. Serve chilled.
Make sure you use care in handling and storing all of these ingredients. I find it easier to cut everything up and store separately in ziplock bags. Washed and cut up vegetables can be refrigerated together, but meats and cheeses should be kept separate.
Serves: A small army
Calories: Calculating that would take more than it takes to prepare it
Estimated prep time: Days (if you take into account shopping for ingredients more like a week)