Día de los Muertos is the perfect time of year for Mexican hot chocolate. This recipe is a twist on the classic plain chocolate caliente; it’s spiced with chile guajillo, which lends a mildly spicy flavor and an earthy and fruity bouquet to this traditional beverage.
Day of the Dead
One of the most common decorations on altars for Day of the Dead is the sugar skull. You might not know how easy they are to make; they just require a little time (drying overnight) and patience (decorating with royal icing). I’ve put together a detailed tutorial with photos so you can see how easy it is!
You can even do this project with the kids—but be sure to use a drop cloth in case they make a mess with the sugar.
Día de los Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead, is one of my favorite holidays. It’s an opportunity to reconnect with our loved ones lost through constructing an altar in their honor, and it’s also an opportunity to pass on traditions and inform others about the beauty of this holiday.
I’m excited to share that I’ve collaborated with six amazing bloggers to release this beautiful ebook full of recipes and crafts for Día de los Muertos! Here’s a sneak peek at some of the pages (read the full ebook embedded below).
This weekend, I visited PaperSource, one of my favorite stores for stationery and gifts. They didn’t have the item I was looking for, but I did find a few other cool things. Being that it’s only June, I was both surprised and delighted to find a few goodies for Día de Los Muertos already in the store! I had to take some photos to share what I found.
Día de los Muertos goodies:
- Sugar skull cookie cutters/stamps
- Day of the Dead corkscrew, shaped like a skeleton
- Sugar skull pint glasses (set of 4) with unique prints on each glass (they’re hand-wash only, by the way)
I especially love the cookie cutters and stamps. Now that I’ve gotten in the mood early, I’m starting to make a Pinterest board of all the Día de Los Muertos things that I can find leading up to the holiday this year so I can start planning my altar and celebration. Follow along with me on Pinterest and let me know in the comments below, on The Other Side of The Tortilla’s Facebook page, or via Twitter @MauraHernandez if you find anything that I should add to the board!
In Chicago, we’re very lucky to have a lot of Mexican food and culture at our fingertips. But one of my favorite places, particularly around Día de los Muertos, is the National Museum of Mexican Art. Located in the Pilsen neighborhood, the museum is free (thanks to sponsors) and open six days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Every year, they have an excellent exhibit for Día de los Muertos. This year’s exhibit, titled “Hanal Pixán” which means “food for the souls” in the Mayan language, is no exception. And it runs until December 16 if you haven’t seen it yet.
Every year, I love going to the museum around Día de los Muertos not only for the exhibit, but also for the calaveritas de azúcar (sugar skulls) that are handmade and decorated by the famous Mondragón family from Toluca, Mexico.
But one of the things I love most about the museum is open year-round: the Tzintzuntzán gift shop, which has all kinds of Mexican treasures from art to books and music to home decorations and more. Especially during Day of the Dead festivities, the gift shop is filled with Día de los Muertos trinkets and goodies—they’ve got papel picado (that is actually reasonably priced), shadowboxes with mini ofrendas, sugar skulls, paper mache food for ofrendas such as paper mache pan dulce, and the list goes on and on.
Below is a slideshow of some of my favorite items for sale in the gift shop during a recent visit.
The National Museum of Mexican Art is located at 1852 W. 19th St., Chicago, IL 60608.
- Have you been to the museum? What’s your favorite exhibit or thing you’ve seen in the gift shop?
Día de los Muertos was this past 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.
Where in Mexico are your family’s roots?
I am a first generation immigrant from the city of Cuernavaca in the beautiful state of Morelos, known for its spring weather all year long. All my family lives in Mexico, and they have been denied visas to come visit the U.S. so I literally live between two worlds. My dad lives in California, but he left me and my family when I was 8 years old. Although I’m glad he’s here, I haven’t lived with him in California.
Who does your altar honor?
My altar mainly honors my culture and my roots. I put together my altar at the last minute. I called my dad and asked him to expedite me a box full of sugar skulls (some of them arrived broken), marigolds, bread and papel picado. Then I went through my files and found pictures from two of my great grandmas and one of my tía abuela.
Why do you make an altar for Día de los Muertos?
I made the altar because I wanted my kids to learn about my traditions. This is my first attempt to recreate a Mexican tradition with them and it was a success!
How does it keep you connected to Mexican culture?
Last summer I had the chance to take my kids to Mexico to meet my family. They connected with my family in a very deep way, the Latin way. Saying goodbye to come back to the U.S. was heartbreaking, not only to me, but to them as well. They not only learned Spanish, but they also learned that there is an entire family that loves them in a different part of the world. They had never had many adults around in their lives who paid individual attention to them. Ever since we got back to Utah, they think that every airplane that goes by our house is either going to Mexico or coming back from Mexico. I know that they will forget those relationships they formed if I don’t maintain their connected to Mexico. I don’t know if they will continue these traditions, but I know that at least they will be exposed to them. They will have to decide for themselves if they want to pass them on or not, but I surely hope they do.
- Share your altar with us! Fill out this form by Nov. 10 to participate and your altar could be featured here.