This weekend, 1 – 3 November, a major migration is taking place across Latin America. People are travelling by every means possible to return to their families to take part in the Dia de los Muertos or Dia de los Difuntos. (Muertos means dead and Difunto means deceased - virtually the same thing)
North Americans most often associate this event with Mexico, their closes Latino neighbour. What they should know is that this celebration has a different meaning and is practiced in various ways, country by country, and sometimes within countries. To give an example, drawing on generalities, Mexicans celebrate death while Ecuadorians focus on honouring loved ones, passed on. The distinction may seem, at first glance, small; but, it is culturally significant.
Everyone agrees that this tradition originated when the Spanish encouraged the melding of Catholicism with local indigenous belief systems as they invaded and occupied the New World. Celebrated on 2 November each year, this holiday celebration coincides with the Christian All Saints Day and All Souls Day. One should note that, at this time, people in Spain also honour the dead.
In Ecuador, Catholicism and the culture of the Quitu Cara shaped the character of the community’s beliefs. Today, Ecuadorians are profoundly moved in remembrance. It is tradition to eat Guagua de Pan and drink Colada Morada. Guagua de Pan is decorated bread shaped like a baby. Colada Morada is a red coloured drink made from various fruits; specifics vary from region to region. Ask anyone why the bread and fruit drink and almost nobody knows. The best explanation that I have heard is that the bread represents a soul and the Colada Morada death. Analogous to planting seeds into the earth, the soul, bread, enters into death, the drink, to grow again.
My partner spent several hours over two days making Colada Morada on the kitchen stove. We have yet to buy the Guagua de Pan at a local bakery; but, that will happen, keeping with tradition. It is sweet; and, I found it most enjoyable to drink, hot as is the practice.
In our hustle bustle world, it would not hurt each of us to stop for a few moments to think about and appreciate those who have gone before. Far too often they are quickly forgotten.
Friday, El Dia de Difuntos, and thoughout the weekend, Andre Hugo’s Photo of the Day will focus on this celebration. Each Photo of the Day appears on Twitter @andrehugosplace, on Facebook as andrehugosplace, on Linkedin as Andre Hugo of AndreHugosPlace and on MySpace as AndreHugosPlace.
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