This bread goes way back to the times of human sacrifices when the Mayans used to offer the beating heart of women to the gods to go in a pot with Amaranto, an Andean cereal rich in nutrients. The Spaniards horrified by this tradition created a heart made of wheat and sugar, which was painted with red simulating the blood.
Others believe the bread tradition came from the foods the dead were buried with, which was a common practice in Mesoamerica. Books on Mexican traditions talk about a bread made with crushed and toasted amaranth seeds, mixed with the blood of the sacrificed in honor to Izcoxauhqui, Cuetzaltzin or Huehuetéotl.
Pan de muerto is essential when celebrating "El Día de los Muertos" simply because it carries tradition and it is the bread Mexicans share with families at the table. Other foods we use "El Día de los Muertos" are "el mole negro," los dulces Oaxaqueños like pumpkin preserve, "las manzanitas de tejocote," along with chocolate. We also use seasonal fruits to decorate the altares.
Meaning and Classification of Pan de Muerto
The bread evolved to take the shape we enjoy today. The circle on the top is the cranium that has bones underneath, and the flavor is sweet in honor of the memory of the deceased.
There are breads that represent the human figure and others that represent animals like birds, rabbits, butterflies, etc. which are more commun in Tepoztlán, Mixquic and Iguala de Telolapan. Some pan de muerto represent trees, flowers and vegetables, while others represent magical beings.
Day of the Dead Bread Recipe
I included this delicious and relatively easy Day of the Dead bread recipe for you to try. It yields 2 loaves, and takes 20 minutes of Prep Time and 25 minutes to Cook. Enjoy!
Day of the Dead bread is one important tradition that joins our families in love and appreciation for the ones gone. I love making or simply buying a Day of the Dead bread to share with our family, children learn our Hispanic culture by practicing our traditions.
Day of the Dead Decor for Your Table
Once you make your pan de muerto think about decorating your table to set the mood. Here are some ideas:
Day of the Dead is not only about foods. This is one of the best holidays to have fun Hispanic style. Crafts, decorations and traditions all come alive during El Dia de los Muertos!
I started celebrating this holiday after my son was born. Honeslty, I want to keep him close to his Latino roots.
Then, many people started asking me about this holiday, so I created this 65-page Dia de los Muertos skull coloring and sugar skull making guide.
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