Día de muertos: ¿Qué es y cuáles son sus costumbres?

Por Kiwilimón - Octubre 2014
papel picado dia de muertos El Día de Muertos es una celebración mexicana que honra a los ancestros durante el 2 de noviembre, coincidiendo con la celebración católica del Día de los Fieles Difuntos. Aunque se ve primariamente como una festividad mexicana, también se celebra en muchas comunidades de los Estados Unidos donde existe una gran población México-americana, y en una menor medida también se celebra en algunas partes de Latinoamérica. Esta festividad se celebra alegremente, y aunque ocurre en fechas cercanas al Día de Todos Los Santos, y al Día de todas las Almas, en lugar de sentirse temerosos de espíritus malévolos, el humor en el día de los muertos es mucho más relajado, similar al Halloween, con un mayor énfasis en la celebración, pero honrando las vidas de los difuntos. Los orígenes de la celebración del Día de Muertos en México, pueden ser trazados hasta la epoca de los indígenas de Mesoamérica, tales como los Aztecas, Mayas, Purepechas, Nahuas y Totonacas. Los rituales que celebran las vidas de los ancestros se realizaron por estas civilizaciones por lo menos durante los últimos 3,000 años. En la era prehispánica era común la práctica de conservar los cráneos como trofeos y mostrarlos durante los rituales que simbolizaban la muerte y el renacimiento.
El festival que se convirtió en el Día de Muertos cayó en el noveno el mes del calendario solar azteca, cerca del inicio de agosto, y era celebrado durante un mes completo. Las festividades eran presididas por el dios Mictecacihuatl, conocido como la "Dama de la muerte" (actualmente corresponde con "la Catrina"). Las festividades eran dedicadas a la celebración de los niños y las vidas de parientes fallecidos.
Cuando los conquistadores españoles llegaron a América en el siglo XV, ellos estuvieron aterrados por las practicas paganas de los indígenas, y en un intento de convertir a los nativos americanos al catolicismo movieron el festival hacia fechas en el inicio de noviembre para que coincidiesen con las festividades católicas del Día de todos los Santos y Todas las Almas. El Día de Todos los Santos es un día después de Halloween, donde este último fue también un ritual pagano de Samhain, el día céltico del banquete de los muertos. Los españoles combinaron las costumbres de Halloween con el festival similar mesoamericano, creando de este modo el Día de Muertos. receta de calaveras de azucar Costumbres Se cree que las almas de niños regresan día primero de noviembre, y las almas de los adultos regresan en día 2 de noviembre. Uno de los símbolos comunes del día de muertos son las calacas; son cráneos que los celebrantes representan con mascaras. Las calaveras de dulce, tienen inscritos los nombres de los difuntos (o en algunos casos de personas vivas en forma de bromas) en la frente, son consumidas por parientes o amigos. Otros platillos especiales del Día de Muertos incluyen al Pan de Muertos, un panecillo dulce hecho a base de huevo que se hornea en diferentes figuras, desde simples formas redondas, cráneos y conejos. Otra importante forma que toma esta celebración son las famosas litografías (támbien llamadas frecuentemente “calaveras”), que constan de versos donde la Catrina (la muerte) bromea con personajes de la vida real, haciendo alusión sobre alguna característica peculiar de la persona en cuestión, y finalizando con frases donde se expone que se lo llevara a la tumba. En la actualidad es común ver litografías en los principales diarios de México, donde se hacen parodias de personajes políticos junto con la catrina en fechas cercanas al 2 de noviembre. bebidas para el dia de muertos Los planes para el festival se hacen en el transcurso del año, incluyendo el acopio de las ofrendas que serán expuestas para los muertos. Durante el período del 1 al 2 de noviembre las familias normalmente limpian y decoran las tumbas con coloridas coronas de flores (de rosas, girasoles, etc.), las cuales se cree atraen las almas de los muertos. En el caso de que no se pueda visitar la tumba (ya sea por que ya no existe la tumba del difunto, o porque la familia esta muy lejos para ir a visitarla) también se elaboran detallados altares en las casas, donde se ponen las ofrendas, que pueden ser platillos de comida, el pan de muertos, vasos de agua, mezcal, tequila, pulque o atole, e incluso juguetes para las almas de los niños. Todo esto se coloca junto a retratos de los difuntos rodeados de veladoras. recetas para el dia de muertos
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Leer en españolIt’s time to say goodbye to the old year! Let’s toast in honor of the closing of the year and the chance to start over. Nothing better to do so than seasonal drinks like cider, a beverage everyone has enjoyed in different celebrations and that is closely related to beer and mead. These three drinks go under a similar fermentation process, although the main liquid with which cider is made is apple-based.This sweet and refreshing drink is an important tradition all over the world, especially in Great Britain, where almost 154 million gallons of cider are produced every year (about 45% of the apples produced in the UK are used for cider). The origin of cider goes back to the Norman colonization in 1066, when the production of this beverage began in monasteries. By 1300, cider had gone mainstream in all the counties of England. Nowadays, there are Irish, German, French, Spanish, Belgian, Czech, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch, Argentinian, Chilean, Mexican, Canadian, American, Pakistani, and South African ciders, and the list goes on. There are alcoholic ciders (known in some countries as hard cider and that contain between 2% and 8.5% of alcohol) and alcohol-free ciders. For the latter, the fermentation process is halted before sugar turns into alcohol, resulting in a sweet, foamy, and golden drink that is ideal for toasting if you do not drink alcohol and that is also kid-friendly. How Is Craft Cider Made?As happens with beer, the industrialization of the production of cider has led different associations to promote the consumption of craft cider. Real cider is prepared with 100% fermented apple juice with live yeast, either in a bottle or a cask. It must not be carbonated, pasteurized, or made from concentrates and it must be prepared with an artisanal process that consists of the following steps: Preparation: Apples are selected and washed, and the leaves and branches are trimmed.Crushing and pressing.Fermentation: Apple juice is placed in plastic barrels. No yeast is added and the juice is allowed to ferment during the winter at low temperature. Clarity, taste, and alcohol volume are checked at the beginning of the summer to know if the cider is ready.Mixing: Once the cider is on point, it is transferred to an oak barrel for aging, where it obtains woody notes and is mixed with aged cider from previous seasons.Mexican Craft CiderCervecería Itañeñe, in Mexico City, produces craft cider with a mix of hop and apples from Zacatlán, Puebla, and Chihuahua. Both in the aroma and taste of this cider, you will find predominant apple notes with a touch of hop and a slight honey note. It is the perfect cider for pairing with traditional turkey with apple salad or an apple strudel.MeadMead is a brew with honey instead of apples, like cider, or malt, like beer. Some meads feature different ingredients like fruits, spices, grains, or flowers, like hop. In Mexico, there are great examples of this drink, such as Ídolo de Ámbar, by Tiny Bastards in Guadalajara, Jalisco, which is a mead made with honey from avocado farms in Michoacán, a mix of yeasts, ale, and champagne for a dry and fruity taste. Moreover, it is fermented for over a year! It is excellent for pairing with paté, soft cheeses, dates, fish, smoked oysters, pasta, and even fruitcake.Beers That Won’t Make You Miss ChampagneIf you are into champagne, you must try craft beer. In 2020, Cervecería Patito from Mérida, Yucatán, launched Brut IPA Año Nuevo, a champagne beer with a citrusy, fruity, dry, and effervescent flavor. Produced with Mosaic hop, it has pine and citrus herb notes and tropical flavors. It is fragrant, pale, and with a light-to-medium body. Try it with soft cheeses like Brie or Camembert, seafood like oysters, and raw dishes like sashimi, as well as with pork loin or pork leg. No matter your choice, remember to support your local crafters during this season. Cheers and happy holidays!Translated by Miranda Perea
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Leer en españolFamilies living in Central Mexico often prepare a very traditional dish for Christmas and New Year’s Eve: romeritos con mole y camarones. Also known as revoltijo, mole and shrimp romeritos are cooked with romeritos, new potatoes, nopales, mole sauce, and dry shrimp. Even though this traditional dish is a must during the holiday season, it is also prepared during Lent.If you are a fan of romeritos, we have good news for you since, in addition to being a budget-friendly and yielding food for the Christmas dinner, this quelite is also rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, which make it the perfect ingredient for a well-balanced and healthy diet. Keep reading to learn more about the many health benefits of eating romeritos.What Are Romeritos?Romeritos, also known as Mexican greens, romerillos or salted quelites, are an edible plant indigenous to the Valley of Mexico, although it is considered a weed in other places. This kind of plant often grows in the fields with other staple foods of Mexican gastronomy, such as beans, zucchini, and maize. The Origins of RomeritosAlthough romeritos are prepared with mole sauce and shrimp nowadays, this ingredient is not new in Mexican cuisine since, according to Mexico’s Agricultural and Rural Development Ministry (Sader), this plant has been eaten since pre-Hispanic times.Back then, the Aztecs prepared romeritos with eggs of axayacatl, aquatic insects that taste like shrimp. According to the Sader, this dish was consumed during the fasting periods performed before celebrations in honor of the gods.Later on, during Colonial times, romeritos consumption significantly declined since it was considered a weed. In those years, nuns focused on combining this edible plant with mole sauce, nopales, shrimp, and potatoes, a dish known as Christmas romeritos or revoltijo. Thus, romeritos became popular once again among Mexican households. Nowadays, this dish is one of the most popular ones among families.What Are the Health Benefits of Eating Romeritos? According to experts, romeritos are as healthy as Swiss chard, spinach, and watercress due to their high content of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.Folic acid: This vitamin is essential for creating new cells, which makes it ideal for pregnant women. Amino acids: The U.S. National Library of Medicine asserts that amino acids are a source of energy, but they are also necessary for growth, digestion, and to repair tissue. Antioxidants: Antioxidants are important because they help fight the effects of free radicals, which cause diseases like cancer. Calcium: This mineral helps to have strong and healthy teeth and bones. Fiber: It prevents constipation and improves digestion. Iron: A mineral that is essential for the production of proteins, hemoglobin, and myoglobin. It prevents anemia. Potassium: It is a mineral and an electrolyte that helps with proper nerve and muscle function, as well as keeping a constant heart rate. In addition to this, it is also ideal for promoting the flow of nutrients into the cells.Vitamin A: This vitamin is essential for the bones, sight, and the immune system. Vitamin B2: It will help you repair tissue and it is good for the skin. Vitamin C: This vitamin is good both for skin and bones. It is rich in antioxidants.Can Romeritos Fight Gastritis?According to data published by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), quelites are good for gastritis. Scientist Irma Romero Álvarez, from the Biochemistry Department of the UNAM’s School of Medicine, asserted that it was found out that romeritos, and all quelites, have a significant effect on the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, which causes gastritis.In an interview, Romero Álvarez said that “all the species of quelites (…) inhibit the bacteria, even better than metronidazole”. Besides gastritis, this bacteria also causes conditions like peptic ulcer and gastric cancer. The expert mentioned that eating romeritos and other quelites helps prevent gastritis, although it must be stressed that eating these plants does not cure cancer; it simply improves the symptoms and prevents their worsening.Keep in mind that if you want to make the most of the health benefits of romeritos, it is best to steam them since adding mole sauce could cause heartburn and gastritis. Why Do We Eat Romeritos with Mole Sauce for Christmas?According to the Sader, families in Central Mexico rejoice in delicious romeritos during Christmas and New Year’s Eve dinner since Colonial times. Back then, religious people held a vigil on December 24, so this meatless dish was the perfect yielding and filling option.Translated by Miranda Perea
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