During November 2007, Mexico Cooks! was so excited during the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festivities to tour both Guadalajara and Morelia with our friend Simon, who was visiting from England. Here's a look back at that trip, which was Simon's introduction to some of the joys of Mexico: Día de los Muertos 2007 and Día de los Muertos 2007, Part 2.
Mexico Cooks! is touring Morelia and Pátzcuaro again during this special time of year. We've attended one or another special Noche de Muertos event every day for an entire week! Traditional ofrendas (altars dedicated to the dead), spectacular crafts exhibits, concerts, and annual concursos (contests) have filled our days and nights. Known in most parts of Mexico as Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), here in Michoacán we call it Noche de los Muertos (Night of the Dead). By either name, the festival as it's celebrated in Mexico is unique in the world.
Mexico celebrates death as it celebrates life, with extreme enjoyment in the simplest things. Life and death are both honored states. The home ofrenda (altar) may memorialize a cherished relative, a political figure (either reviled or beloved), or a figure from the entertainment world. Traditional decorations include the cempasúchil (marigold) and cordón del obispo (cockscomb) flowers, which are used in profusion in churches, cemeteries, and homes.
Relatives take favorite foods and beverages to the grave of a loved one gone before. It's said that the dead partake of the spirit of the food, while the living enjoy the physical treats at the cemetery.
Several years ago, an article in the New York Times quoted Mexico Cooks! about the Noche de los Muertos: "There's a mutual nostalgia. The living remember the dead, and the dead remember the taste of home." That nostalgia imbues the cities and villages of Michoacán at this time of year just as surely as do woodsmoke and the scent of toasting tortillas.
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