The Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday celebrated over the course of several days. It begins on October 31st and ends on November 2nd. During this time friends and family gather to remember and celebrate their deceased loved ones. Below I share a little of how I’ll be celebrating this year and share a recipe for a Paloma and a playlist for the occasion.
I’ve been on my own personal journey recently around my relationship with death and after a viewing of the movie “Coco” earlier this year, it dawned on me that I could change that dynamic by trying a different approach. What’s absolutely beautiful about this holiday is that it’s not based in fear or scary Halloween-related visuals. Sure, there are skeletons involved, but really it’s about the lives that the deceased lived and a celebration of things they loved.
There are lots of great articles and videos out there that go into detail about the Aztec Ritual & Catholic tradition around All Saints Day that fused into modern manifestations of this holiday so I won’t get into too much of that here (highly recommend a good Google search, but this overview by Nat Geo is a good place to get started) but what I want to focus on are just a couple of ways that I plan on embracing the holiday in my own life this year.
As someone who has always had an aversion to skulls, I’m not going with full-blown skeletons around the house (except my fake longhorn pictured above) but I am going to prepare a celebratory feast, listen to some beautiful music from Mexico, and have a wonderful tequila-based cocktail that is famous throughout the country, the Paloma. Beneath my papel picado (the paper flags you often see throughout Mexico) I have a marigold plant surrounded by candles. This is where I will be placing my thoughts of love, gratitude, and appreciation for those that have gone before me. They say the dead are always with us and in my past, I think that idea used to just scare me. All representations we have about ghosts, the afterlife, and the idea of past lives are typically unpleasant. This re-framing of of an afterlife where we, the living, still get to connect with them in a special way on a regular basis is very comforting and beautiful to me. So if you’re feeling like you’d like to take a moment to remember your loved ones, consider taking some time between Oct 31st and Nov 2nd to enjoy some things they used to and celebrate their impact on your life. Cheers friends. May this feel as peaceful to you as it has been for me.
This is one of my favorite cocktails. It’s tangy and bright and it can be adjusted so easily to give it all sorts of new tastes. While commonly made with a grapefruit-flavored soda like Jarritos or Fresca, I opted for actual grapefruit juice. If you really want to mix it up, consider options like muddling in cilantro for herbaceousness, or jalapenos for heat, or a spicy salted rim for some spice. I’m a very make it up as you go kind of gal, but loosely:
In a salted rim glass add:
1.5 oz of tequila
.5 oz of lime juice
Then add ice and pour in grapefruit juice + soda to taste (and a smidge of simple syrup of you’d like it sweeter)
Spotfiy Playlist - Dia de los Muertos
This mix is a blend of sounds from Mexico during the 1940s-1960s (with a shout out to “Coco” at the end). These tunes are reflective of some personal favorites: beautiful percussion, swinging brass, and guitars that sing. One of the most interesting (and again, very research worthy) things I discovered upon trying to identify a specific genre or style to feature is that there is so much blending brought by travelers and immigrants from neighboring nations. It creates an incredible fusion musically that I really wish I knew more about and now I’m intrigued to learn more. This Wiki entry should get your rolling while you take a listen. I hope you enjoy it.