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Monday, October 31st, 2011

Our Dia de los Muertos and Halloween Fun

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This weekend we had a taste of all sorts of fall festivities and also celebrated Day of the Dead for the first time at a joint pumpkin carving/Day of the Dead celebration play date. (I must admit, these blended cultural celebrations are truly some of my favorites as they are the perfect reflection of how all the mixed families out there (and not solely multicultural families but also people who love incorporating diverse cultural elements into a celebration) create traditions.

But let me back up a second. El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a Mexican holiday honoring loved ones who have passed away. A friend from Mexico, Adriana, sent me some awesome pictures of her Dia de los Muertos celebration to put the holiday into better context. The first picture above are fields of the cempasuchil flower, which is the popular decoration for altars and houses during the celebration.

Here’s the entrance to my friend’s house–the cempasuchil flower petals are thrown in such a way that it leads the way to the front door. They are supposed to invite your spirits, the ones honored in the ofrenda (altar–pictured to the right), into your house. She notes that usually she places the petals on the evening of November 1st., right around midnight (on the 2nd), so that the spirits know everything is ready and waiting for them.
Finally, pan de muerto is a popular food eaten for the holiday. Here are some of the panes de muerto Adriana made. You can find a recipe for pan de muerto here: http://www.incultureparent.com/2011/10/day-of-the-dead-recipe-pan-de-muerto/

At my friend Rosanna’s house, we had a fun pumpkin carving/ Day of the Dead celebration. Rosanna had made her own ofrenda, in honor of her grandfather (and I loved that there was a shot of tequila on it as her grandfather loved tequila–can you find it in the photo?)
and we shared some pan de muerto. Each of the kids received mini, edible calaveras de azúcar (sugar skulls).

As the only gringa there, everyone expected I knew something about pumpkin carving but like everything, times have changed since I used to carve pumpkins as a kid, with triangle eyes and jagged teeth cause that’s all you could manage with a kitchen knife. I didn’t realize they made pumpkin carving kits now, complete with traced images to carve out for the face. That explains the mystery of why every pumpkin on my street looks like an artist did it. Here’s my Moroccan husband carving pumpkins, which is amusing as the man has never carved a pumpkin in his life and remains a bit confused by Halloween (for example, why the scary element is one of his main questions).



Here are all the kiddos with our pumpkins that make us all look like artists. Shh, don’t tell they were thanks to Target pumpkin carving kits!



Sunday we hit the obligatory pumpkin patch–one of my favorite parts of celebrating fall with kids. Here are mine going for the largest pumpkin they could find:



Our fall fun culminated in their school Halloween celebration, followed by trick or treating. For their Halloween costumes, the girls were very intent and excited about being matching “stinky piggies.” It was pretty easy to convince them that dancing pigs were much cooler, once there was a tutu involved.



Happy Halloween!

© 2011 – 2013, Stephanie Meade. All rights reserved.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Stephanie is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of InCultureParent. She has two Moroccan-American daughters (ages 5 and 6), whom she is raising, together with her husband, bilingual in Arabic and English at home, while also introducing Spanish. After many moves worldwide, she currently lives in Berkeley, California.

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