Who celebrates Día de los Muertos in the United States?

Though Día de los Muertos is a holiday celebrated in Mexico, the changing landscape of the United States means that a lot more people are celebrating Day of the Dead on this side of the border. According to a study released in 2012 by the Pew Hispanic Center about Hispanic origin profiles of those living in the United States (whether U.S. born or foreign born), people with Mexican ancestry or who are Mexican by birth make up nearly 65 percent of all Hispanics in the U.S.

Of course, this makes us happy at The Other Side of The Tortilla because it means there are a lot of people like us who are looking to stay connected to their heritage whether by food, culture or traveling to Mexico (or at least reading about it).

Golin Harris, a worldwide public relations agency, recently conducted a nationwide survey of Hispanic adults.

Here are their findings:

  • 28 percent of the people surveyed said they celebrate Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
  • The top three ways in which people celebrate this holiday include buying or baking pan de muerto (25 percent), visiting a cemetary (21 percent) and building an altar (17 percent).
  • The top five reasons why people said they celebrate Day of the Dead include family togetherness (52 percent), maintaining traditions (51 percent), the food associated with the traditions (46 percent), teaching the traditions to their children (39 percent) and having the ability to share the best of both worlds of their Latino and American heritage (37 percent).
  • Where are people celebrating Día de los Muertos? Of those surveyed, 37 percent lived in the West, 29 percent in the Northeast, 27 percent in the Midwest and 21 percent in the South of the United States.

Keep reading for a cool infographic that Golin Harris shared with us…… 

Read More »

Celebrating Día de los Muertos with friends: Unknown Mami

Día de los Muertos is this week and as a special treat, I’ve asked some of my friends to send me photos and descriptions of their altars to share here on The Other Side of The Tortilla to show the variety of ways that people celebrate this holiday.

Today, I’m sharing the altar of my friend C. from Unknown Mami.

Unknown Mami's altar for Día de los Muertos 2012. It's the first time she's ever made one.PHOTO/COURTESY OF UNKNOWN MAMI

Where in Mexico are your family’s roots?
My family is from Mexicali.

Who does your altar honor?
My altar honors my daughters’ grandfather, two friends, my tía, my tío, two primos, and my nana (abuela).

Any special ofrendas or items on your altar?
There is cerveza for my tío (he wasn’t picky, so any will do), cards for solitaire for my nana, cologne for my daughters’ grandfather, mazapan and eyeliner (she was out of it the last time I saw her) for my tía, and flowers and candles for everyone.

Why did you make an altar for Día de los Muertos? How does it keep your connected to Mexican culture? And do you involve your kids to pass on the tradition?
This was my very first Día de los Muertos altar and it made me feel more connected to my culture and family because it brought back memories of my youth and it helped me bond with loved ones I’ve missed. It was a joy to remember them and share their stories with my daughters. My daughters are very young and never got a chance to meet any of the people we are honoring, but now they will hear about them every year.

Any other details you want to share about your altar?
It never occurred to me that I would have so much fun putting together an altar, that I would remember the idiosyncrasies and likes of my departed.

For more photos and a story about Unknown Mami’s altar for Día de los Muertos, click here.

Celebrating Día de los Muertos with friends: Mexican at Heart

Día de los Muertos is this week and as a special treat, I’ve asked some of my friends to send me photos and descriptions of their altars to share here on The Other Side of The Tortilla to show the variety of ways that people celebrate this holiday.

Today, I’m sharing the altar of my friend Jessica Seba from Mexican at Heart.

Altar for Día de los Muertos by Jessica Seba

What is your connection to Mexico that makes you participate in this tradition?
I love Dia de los Muertos and everything it represents, not to mention papel picado and cempasuchils are my some of my favorite Mexican things! I thought this year it would be good to make my first altar instead of Halloween decorations.

Who does your altar honor?
My altar is dedicated to my grandpa, who passed away earlier this year.

Any special ofrendas or items on your altar?
I put bars of Irish Spring soap on my altar because that scent has always reminded me of my grandpa. I happen to find Walmart selling the soap—which is not a normal shelf item in Mexico—so I grabbed a few boxes. I also put a donkey on there because my grandpa once told the family that if he were to be reincarnated into an animal after he died, he “would be an ass.” He was a real jokester. Other than that, it’s quite hard to find my grandpa’s favorite Polish foods here in Mexico so I didn’t put too much food.

Why do you make an altar for Día de los Muertos? How does it keep your connected to Mexican culture?
I made an altar because I thought it would be interesting to learn the significance behind what everything meant (the water, the colors, the levels, etc.). Mexico has been overtaken by Halloween celebrations in recent years, so I wanted to do something more traditional.

For more photos and a story about Jessica’s altar for Día de los Muertos, click here to visit Mexican at Heart.

Celebrating Día de los Muertos with friends: Muy Bueno Cookbook

Día de los Muertos is this week and as a special treat, I’ve asked some of my friends to send me photos and descriptions of their altars to share here on The Other Side of The Tortilla to show the variety of ways that people celebrate this holiday.

Today, I’m sharing the altar of my friend Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack from Muy Bueno Cookbook.

Día de los Muertos with Muy Bueno Cookbook

Muy Bueno Cookbook's altar for Día de los Muertos 2012. PHOTO/COURTESY OF MUY BUENO COOKBOOK

Where in Mexico are your family’s roots?
Our grandmother was born in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Who does your altar honor?
Our grandmother, Jesusita—the matriarch of our familia who inspired us.

Any special ofrendas or items on your altar?
The belief is that visiting souls may be hungry from their long journey and the food and drink is nourishment for their journey back. This year our altar included pan dulce (sweet bread), Mexican candies and veladoras (religious candles). I knew I needed to buy all these goodies to let grandma know I was thinking of her and to welcome her spirit.

Why do you make an altar for Día de los Muertos? How does it keep your connected to Mexican culture? And do you involve your kids to pass on the tradition?
It’s a perfect way to honor our grandmother. We are thrilled to educate our children about traditions that are part of our culture. We retell memories of our grandmother to our children and reminisce in the times we shared with her.

For more photos and a story about Yvette’s altar for Día de los Muertos and a recipe for marranitos, click here to visit Muy Bueno Cookbook.

Celebrating Día de los Muertos with friends: Nibbles and Feasts

Día de los Muertos is this week and as a special treat, I’ve asked some of my friends to send me photos and descriptions of their altars to share here on The Other Side of The Tortilla to show the variety of ways that people celebrate this holiday.

Today, I’m sharing the altar of my friend Ericka Sanchez from Nibbles and Feasts.

Altar for Día de los Muertos by Ericka Sanchez of Nibbles and Feasts

Altar for Día de los Muertos by Ericka Sanchez of Nibbles and Feasts. PHOTO/COURTESY OF ERICKA SANCHEZ

Where in Mexico are your family’s roots?
Ericka: Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico

A Día de los Muertos altar by Ericka Sanchez

Ericka's altar. PHOTO/COURTESY OF ERICKA SANCHEZ

Who does your altar honor? 
Ericka:
It honors the loved ones our family has lost throughout the years.

Any special ofrendas or items on your altar?
Ericka: Most of the items displayed on the altar are artwork we’ve collected from our trips to Mexico City, Guadalajara, Oaxaca and Torreon. From a paper-mache catrina to clay luchadores, we love bringing home something that we know will have a special place on our altar.

Why do you make an altar for Día de los Muertos? How does it keep your connected to Mexican culture? And do you involve your kids to pass on the tradition?
Ericka: We love the time we spend together building the altar, talking about the friends and family we are honoring, the items on display and what they symbolize culturally. This year is special because it is the first year my son is old enough help arrange the cempazuchitl (marigold) blooms throughout the display.

For more photos and a story about Ericka’s altar for Día de los Muertos, click here to visit Nibbles and Feasts.

¡Feliz Día de los Muertos!

la ofrenda

Today is Día de los Muertos, a day to celebrate the lives of our deceased loved ones. It is believed that on this day, the souls of the dead can travel back to earth to be with us. Leaving an altar with an offering for the souls ensures that they will find their way home.

I thought I’d share with you the altar that we made in honor of our family members who have passed away.

The altar includes flowers, religious candles, fruit, tequila, lime and salt, obleas con cajeta, water, dulce de guayaba cristalizada, a miniature tortilla press and molcajete, dolls my Dad brought me from a trip to Mexico when I was a little girl, pan de muerto, a pillow, colorful striped fabric, papel picado brought all the way from Mexico City and a handmade carpeta de encaje (ornamental lace). Confession: I ate the pepitorias that I made for the altar last night before I got the chance to photograph it, I just couldn’t resist.

I was interested in how others around the world constructed their altars and what they looked like so I curated a project you’ll see below. I asked friends, family and strangers on Facebook and Twitter to submit photos of their altars to share here on The Tortilla. I’ll continue to add items to the curated project over the next few days as I continue to receive more photos.

Here are a few more details from our altar in honor of José’s grandparents, my grandparents, and other family members who have passed away, including my uncle who was killed in an accident earlier this year. May their souls rest in peace.

tequila, limón y sal

pan de muerto

View the entire album of our altar by clicking on the thumbnails:

Thank you to everyone who allowed me to share their photos for this curated project. I spent the last few days searching and collecting items posted on Twitter that contributed to it. I hope you enjoy looking at all the photos as much as I did.

Last but not least, muchas felicidades to Marcela from Culture Mami, who won our apron giveaway from last week! I look forward to seeing photos of you wearing your calavera-print apron made by Lisa Renata. :)

  • How are you celebrating Día de los Muertos? Who are you honoring with your ofrenda?
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