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Fascinating Facts about the Day of the Dead

Fascinating Facts about the Day of the Dead

A unique national holiday that originated centuries ago in Mexico’s pre-Hispanic cultures, including Aztec, Maya and Toltec, Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is a recognition of the fact that death is a natural phase in life’s continuum. The mood is one of life-affirming joy.

Halloween, the popular American holiday associated with wearing costumes, trick-or-treating and jack-o‘-lanterns, is held on October 31. Day of the Dead is commemorated on November 1 and 2, corresponding to All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day on the Christian calendar. These dates usually coincide with the fall maize harvest.

A series of commemorative Day of the Dead events are scheduled to take place at the Pueblo Bonito Resorts within Quivira Los Cabos on Nov. 1 and 2.

At Cibola, the stylish clubhouse restaurant at Montecristo Estates Luxury Villas, a themed breakfast with hot chocolate and Pan de Muerto, dinner with a special Mexican menu, and an exhibition of altars of the dead are planned for both days.

At Sunset Beach Golf Resort & Spa, a special dinner will be held on both Nov. 1 and 2 at LaFrida with a Day of the Dead tasting menu. It includes a Tamales Trio and a dessert of Pan de Muerto Stuffed with Orange Jam and Corn Ash and accompanied with homemade Oaxaca-style hot chocolate. On Nov. 2, a traditional Mexican buffet and lively mariachi music will be offered at La Nao.

At Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort, an exhibition of the altars of the dead will be featured on Nov. 1 and 2, with a special Mexican buffet dinner on the beach scheduled for Nov. 2.

Did you know…

· Kept alive in memory and spirit, the deceased in Mexico continue to be recognized as members of the community. Imbedded in the culture is the belief that the souls of the departed return to the home of the living to be

with family members and feed on the food offered to them on altars placed in their honor.

· Like any other celebration in Mexico, Day of the Dead features music and dancing. Popular dances include La Danza de los Viejitos—the dance of the little old men—in which boys and young men dress as old men, walk around crouched over, and then suddenly jump up in an energetic dance. Another dance is La Danza de los Tecuanes—the dance of the jaguars—that depicts farm workers hunting a jaguar.

· One of the best places to observe this unique autumnal celebration is the historic quarter of San Jose del Cabo, where Day of the Dead festivities unfold over two days of colorful festivities. The theme is death, but the gatherings are not morbid. Families get together to offer love and show respect for deceased family members. Revelers don makeup and costumes, march in parades, form street parties and make offerings to lost loved ones. Visitors will see temporary altars, or ofrendas, on the sidewalks. These altars are meant to welcome spirits back to the realm of the living. They’re adorned with offerings—a favorite meal, family photos, a candle for each dead relative.

· Ofrendas include the four elements: water, wind, earth and fire. Water is left in a pitcher so the spirits can quench their thirst after the long journey. Papel picado, or traditional paper banners, represent the wind. Earth is symbolized by food, especially bread. Candles are often left in the form of a cross to signify the cardinal directions, so the spirits can find their way. Flowers (especially marigolds) and monarch butterflies are common symbols; orange and purple are typical colors.

· For the living, offerings include pan de muerto, or ‘bread of the dead,’ a typical sweet bread (pan dulce) dotted with anise seeds and decorated with skulls and bones made from dough. The bones might be arranged in a circle, as in the circle of life. Tiny dough teardrops symbolize sorrow.

By venerating the departed in a joyful way, Day of the Dead has been perpetuated over the centuries as a whole-hearted celebration. Mexicans from

all ethnic and religious backgrounds celebrate Día de los Muertos, a holiday that endures as a reaffirmation of life.