For the people of Mexico, one day of the year commemorates a time when the living and the deceased can congregate in peace and harmony (and it is not Halloween). Every November 2, Mexican families and friends gather in cemeteries or cluster before altars (ofrendas) to celebrate the lives of dead loved ones on Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Piles of puffy, fragrant marigolds and photographs of the deceased line grave markers, and children indulge in the gorgeous candy skulls and Pan de Muerto (Day of the Dead Bread). Meanwhile, statues of calacas (decorative skeleton characters) line the streets and homes of families. Overall, the remembrance of deceased loved ones is treated as a celebration of life. Still, did you realize that one particular tradition involves the sharing or presentation of alcoholic drinks? Let’s take a closer look at alcohol consumption during this sacred Mexican holiday.
Sugar Skulls and Mezcal
Fluffy flowers and sugary candies are not the only items that are shared on Dia de Los Muertos. In fact, many altars are lined with beverages like soda, juice, beer, and mezcal (a traditional Mexican drink) to entice the spirits of loved ones back to the land of the living.
A sacred aspect of Mexican culture, mezcal is a critical component of most (perhaps all) Oaxacan rituals, ceremonies, and holidays (including Day of the Dead) and is so deeply rooted in ancient culture that some locals believe it is consumed in the afterlife. Another sacred beverage that is commonly consumed during this holiday is champurrado, an ancient chocolate drink that was created by the Aztecs.
As a whole, the sharing of mezcal dates back centuries and is sometimes accompanied by aromatic foods like mole con pollo, a mole recipe including chicken, chile passila sesame seeds, and additional ingredients. Often, family members will partake in the tangy mezcal beverage while sharing stories and will offer the drink as a gesture of love and respect for a deceased loved one (and the spirits of their ancient ancestors).
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