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Folami's Journal

An ongoing column with series of informational entries

Our First Entry

October 23, 2022

The Complete Guide to Dia de Los Muertos, Traditions & Celebrations

By: Folami Shakur


Celebrating Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos is an Aztec holiday that celebrates the lives of those who have passed away. It is also known as Day of the Dead.

This holiday originated in Mexico and it has become popular all over the world. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd, with November 1st being for children and November 2nd being for adults. Although, it's not unusual to find others celebrating as early as October 30th.

The celebration includes building altars to remember the dead and offering them food and beverages, as well as making their favorite foods in their honor.

The altars are decorated with items such as sugar skulls, marigolds, oranges, apples, chilies peppers, flowers made of tissue paper or papel picado (a type of paper cut into shapes), candles or lights, photos or images of the deceased person.

In addition to building altars in homes and public spaces to honor specific deceased people on this day, there are also many other rituals done in order to honor those who have passed away such as lighting candles, placing flowers, and holding ceremonies.

It is important to note that Dia De Los Muertos is not a religious holiday and it does not involve any specific rituals or beliefs. It is simply a way for people to remember their loved ones who have passed away.

Traditional Foods For Dia De Los Muertos

The traditional foods for Dia de los Muertos are called "ofrendas" and they represent the life of the person who has died. The most popular food for this day is sugar skulls, which are made from sugar and are decorated to look like a human skull. They usually have some sort of sweet filling, such as fruit or chocolate. The sugar skull is served in a small bag with a little bit of water to make it easier to eat.

The other type of food that people eat on Dia de los Muertos is pan de muerto or bread of the dead. This bread is usually made with wheat flour, anise seeds and cinnamon sticks, but it can also be made with cornmeal or rice flour instead. The dough can be shaped into any form, but is most often shaped into a rectangular loaf.

Vegan Recipes for Celebrating Dia De Los Muertos

Here’s my Plant based/Vegan spin on 2 traditional recipes for celebrating Dia De Los Muertos.

Calabaza en Tacha

Ingredients:

-Fresh Pumpkin

-Spring Water

-Cinnamon sticks

-Whole cloves

-Ground Cardamom (pinch)

-Orange Peel

-Piloncillo (Raw Sugar Cane)

-All Spice

-Star Anise

-Pink Sea Salt (pinch)

-Plant Based Cream (optional Topping)


Step 1. Thoroughly clean your pumpkin. Then cut it into even pieces. You can leave the pumpkin seeds if you want!

Step 2. In a large pot, pour in the spring water then add the piloncillo (raw sugar cane), orange peel, and all of the spices.

Step 3. Bring mixture to a boil and stir often to help break down the piloncillo. Make sure the piloncillo has dissolved into the water.

Step 4. Add the pumpkin flesh to the mixture.

Step 5. Cover and cook until the pumpkin is tender to touch.

Please note to make sure the pumpkin pieces have been fully covered with the syrup in the pot. Your dish is now ready to be served. You can drizzle the plant based cream as an optional topping!

Cação Alegrias

Ingredients:

-Cacao Powder (you can use vegan cocoa powder as a substitute)

-Agave Syrup

-Puffed Amaranth (1 cup makes about 4-6)

-Coconut Cream (or any plant based cream)

-Avocado Oil (or your favorite cooking oil)

-Skull Molding Tray (optional)

-Plant based food decorations (optional)


Step 1. In a large bowl, mix Cacao powder and Agave Syrup until it is well blended.

Step 2. Pour in Puffed Amaranth and mix well with the Cacao powder and Agave syrup mixture.

Step 3. Use Avocado Oil to oil Skull Mold Tray

Step 4. Put the mixture into the mold tray. Make sure to firmly press mixture into the mold tray for design to fully transfer. * If you have no mold tray, shape mini skull like shapes with your hands and place on an oiled tray*

Step 5. Place in the freezer for 2 ½ hours.

Step 6. Unmold your treats carefully and place them on a tray. Store the tray at room temp. while getting optional toppings ready

Step 7. Place Coconut Cream in a piping bag. (use sandwich bag or freezer bag if you don’t have piping bag)

Step 8. Decorate your treats anyway you like. Make it colorful and get creative with details.

Step 9. Place in refrigerator for 20 mins

After being refrigerated for 20 mins the Alegrias are ready to eat!

Is this a raw dish? It seems like it would be considered as much. If so, that's a plus! All ingredients were found at Whole Foods but you can definitely check out your local Farmers and Farmer’s Markets, along with your neighborhood grocery stores to find these ingredients.