Culture

Here Are 13 Interesting Facts About The History And Symbolism Of Pan De Muerto

The yearly calendar for Mexican social life pretty much is dictated by baked goods. You know the year is wrapping up when bakeries and supermarkets start stocking traditional pan de muerto, a type of bread that is placed on altars and enjoyed by families around Day of the Dead. It is a delicious, spongy delicacy that tastes like brioche but has a distinctive smell, product of the orange peel and orange blossom essential oils that the traditional recipe calls for. This is what you need to know about pan de muerto. Hey, if you wanna get on your abuela’s good books this is your chance to impress her. 

1. The origins of pan de muerto seem to go back all the way to Aztec times.

Credit: Instagram / breadpanaderos

Of course, the original owners of the land on which Mexico City exists now did not have wheat, eggs and oranges (the main ingredients for pan de muerto) before the Spanish arrived. Rather, according to chronicles from the time and some historians, they made a sort of cake with amaranth flour. Some believe that this bread contained blood product of human sacrifices and that it was an offering to the gods. 

2. The Spanish conquistadores changed the recipe, as they found this culinary practice violent and barbaric.

Credit: Instagram / chicayeyemx

During colonial times the Spanish learnt of this practice and changed the recipe (it no longer contained actual dead people’s blood!). The amaranth was replaced with wheat flour and the top was sprinkled with sugar turned red with a colorant, which symbolized blood, an echo of the Aztec tradition. Some bakeries still use red sugar. 

3. So what about the circle in the middle of the bread?

Credit: Instagram / pandefuego

The circle represents a skull, and the elongated pieces of bread stand, of course, for the bones. The skull and bones are the most coveted bits of every pan de muerto, so snatch them as soon as you can (although you might get someone upset, as there is nothing worse than finding a boneless pancito de muerto laying around in the kitchen!). The long bones also symbolize the tears we shed for those who have passed away before us. 

 4. So you have noticed the sesame seeds in lieu of sugar in some panes de muerto?

Credit: Instagram / cielorojomex

Well, that reveals that the bread is from the Mexican state of Puebla, where sesame seeds are sprinkled on top. This has to do with the French influence on culinary affairs, and we all know French bakers like to get creative. 

 5. And in Oaxaca pan de muerto has a completely different shape and actually features a corpss. It’s much less creepy than it sounds.

Credit: Instagram / illsaygiselle

Everything is just a little more elaborate in Oaxaca and pan de muerto is no exception. The Oaxacan variety is made with extra egg yolks and has an anthropomorphic design, complete with a little edible doll which represents the dead. They are simply delicious.  

6. BTW, the orange blossom essence in pan de muerto has a very poetic meaning.

Credit: Instagram / gustobread

Orange blossom has a delicate and comforting smell that inevitably takes us back to the Day of the Dead altars that have been important in our lives. The smell is meant to symbolize the everlasting presence of the faithful departed. It is a sweet celebration of the connection between life and death. 

7. Pan de muerto is a perfect example of contemporary Mexican identity.

Credit: Instagram / laotiliamx

This bread is the epitome of the cultural mish mash that defines contemporary Mexican identity. It has a prehispanic origin with religious connotations, but it has developed into a European food (bread is, after all, a product brought by the colonial power). It is also used in a celebration that fuses ancient indigenous beliefs and Catholic tradition.  

 8. It is round, like the circle of life.

Credit: Instagram / _piggy_back

Its roundness is also a reminder of the cycle of life and death, a cycle that has no definite end and no definite beginning. Indigenous cosmology frames life and death as coexisting and complementing realms. 

 9. If the bones form a cross, they stand for the four cardinal points.

Credit: Instagram / catiabril68

The compass directs each arrow, or bread bone in pan de muerto, to a point ruled by the Aztec gods Quetzalcóatl, Tláloc, Xipe Tútec and Tezcatlipoca. 

10. Panes de muerto are placed on altars so the dead can feast.

Credit: Instagram / lacasadelalolas

Of course, come November 3 you can have the delicious pan for yourself, and if you make a traditional chocolate caliente it will be even better. 

11. Of course, as with everything else, pan de muerto has been gentrified. Just look at this delicious monstrosity.

Credit: Instagram / tresabejas

Yes, we gotta admit that this looks absolutely delicious and we don’t wanna get all puritan when it comes to popular culture (which, far from stable, is a mutating thing), but having melted conejitos (a traditional Mexican chocolate) is a bit too much. Is it Day of the Dead or is it Easter? You can’t always have both! 

12. Oh, hipsters, just sprinkling matcha on absolutely everything! 

Credit: Instagram / weeatmx

Yes, perhaps following the gentrifying wave of Starbucks some Mexican bakeries are starting to add green matcha tea dust in with the traditional sugar. Verde que te quiero verde, hipsters seem to recite in unison. 

13. Can everyone just please stop? Is innovation just killing the true meaning of this Mexican traditional bun?

Credit: Instagram / yerliju

We mean, what fresh hell of deliciousness is this? No, seriously, a pan de muerto hamburger is just a tiny bit over the top, isn’t it?

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President Trump Declares Día de Muertos a ‘National Remembrance Day’ For Americans ‘Killed By Illegal Aliens’

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President Trump Declares Día de Muertos a ‘National Remembrance Day’ For Americans ‘Killed By Illegal Aliens’

Photo: PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

On October 30th, President Donald Trump released a memo declaring November 1st a “National Day of Remembrance for Americans Killed By Illegal Aliens”.

Almost immediately, Latinos recognized that Trump’s “day of remembrance” directly coincided with another significant day of remembrance–Dia de Muertos.

The proclamation stated that the purpose of the rememberance day was to honor the lives of Americans who were “so egregiously taken from us by criminal illegal aliens.” It continued: “As sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and as American citizens, these precious lives are an irreplaceable piece of our national community.”

Trump concluded the statement by saying that we “recommit to ensuring that those responsible for these tragedies face justice, while taking every action to prevent these horrific acts from occurring in our Nation.”

Naturally, many Americans saw this as a direct slap in the face to Latinos who celebrate Dia de Muertos on the same day.

It is no secret that Trump has openly derided Mexican immigrants on multiple occasions, calling them “drug dealers”, “criminals”, “rapists”, and “bad hombres”.

Throughout his term, he has sought to limit all forms of immigration from the Southern border–even asylum seekers. His reasoning is that immigrants from Mexico are violent and dangerous, but statistics paint a different story. Studies have shown that crime rates are actually lower among immigrants than they are among native-born Americans.

This type of cultural insensitivity reminds is reminiscent of Trump’s Oklahoma campaign rally over the summer. As a refresher, Trump held the rally in Tulsa on June 11th–also known as Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of Black Americans from slavery. The fact that the rally was held in Tulsa also added insult to injury. Tulsa is the infamous site of the Tulsa Race Massacre, where jealous white Americans slaughtered residents of Oklahoma’s “Black Wall Street” en masse. Either Trump didn’t do his homework, or he was blatantly inflaming historical racial wounds. Either way, the decision was thoughtless.

Of course, many people on Twitter were shocked and appalled by Trump’s ‘National Remembrance Day’ proclamation.

This proclamation reeks of blatant race-baiting and overall disrespect for this deeply sentimental Latin American tradition.

This Latina doesn’t seem to be convinced that the date Trump chose for this “Remembrance Day” was coincidental.

The anti-Latino sentiment coming from Trump is undeniable this time.

This Twitter user couldn’t help but point out the hypocrisy of calling certain immigrants “illegal” when the OG illegal immigrants were white colonizers.

Where is the remembrance day for the millions of Indigenous people killed by European colonizers? Or the millions of Africans who were stolen from their ancestral homes and forced into slavery?

This Twitter user pointed out the statistical disparity between Americans killed by “illegal aliens” and those killed by COVID-19.

We wish Donald Trump would’ve used this same energy when it came to containing and controlling the spread of the coronavirus across the United States at the beginning of this year.

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This Cannabis Dispensary in Santa Ana Had a Dia De Los Muertos Event and Here’s Everything You Missed

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This Cannabis Dispensary in Santa Ana Had a Dia De Los Muertos Event and Here’s Everything You Missed

Dispensaries, especially unlicensed shops, are not known to be the friendliest of places. For first timers, it can be quite intimidating to go into one and be presented with a plethora of products, where do you even begin? As you stand there trying to figure out what everything means, the pressure grows as fast as the line behind you and the budtender gives you simple responses that don’t even answer your inquiries. You probably ended up leaving with more questions than you went in with and picked the best sounding products, but don’t really know what you got or what to do with it.

Tropicanna is here to change that narrative.

The dispensary, which is located in Santa Ana, serves and delivers to the greater Orange County area, including Anaheim, Irvine, and all the way to San Clemente. You can spot the shop from blocks away, the bright turquoise and pink building is easily discernible among the surrounding storefronts. The inspiration for the decor and color scheme is tied back to the original Tropicana Club in Havana Cuba, mixed with Miami vibes and culture for a modern and Instagrammable experience.

“At Tropicanna, we want people to have fun and feel at home,” co-owner JP told mitú. “When people walk into the shop, we want them to forget about all the other bad experiences they’ve had. We’re here to help, whether it be with medicinal or recreational cannabis, we want everyone to feel comfortable enough to ask all the questions they have and leave our store confident with their choices.” 

Having been to various dispensaries, I can confidently attest to the fact that their customer service team is unparalleled. Seriously. At no point in time did I feel rushed, and when I talked to the reps it was like I was talking with a friend. The shop is well stocked in all types of products, and the customer service reps were able to help me figure out which ones were right for me based on the experience I wanted to have. I even ended up leaving with a couple of products for my mom (she needs her chocolatitos to help her go to sleep).

Not only is Tropicanna changing the customer experience game, they are also inviting the community to get involved and participate in the various events they host, the most recent of which was for Dia De Los Muertos.

“We would be nothing without our community,” continued JP, “so we wanted to let them know that we appreciate them and are proud to be a part of it. That was where the inspiration for the event came in. At the end of the day, at Tropicanna we want to stand out in the experience we provide but also community presence.”

The main event setup was in the parking lot, but there was plenty to see inside the shop. As soon as you walked in you were able to sign up for a giveaway, which was complete with products from the vendors stationed outside. Cempasuchil flowers and calaveras were everywhere, most of the staff was in full calavera makeup, and there was even an altar!


If you purchased any products from the companies that were sponsoring the event, you got some free treats from the vendors outside. 👀

Food was provided by @chef_flip_fantabulas

Chef Rudy, the founder of @cannabiscateredevents, has figured out how to take delicious food and elevate it. He’s at Tropicanna every Tuesday with a weekly rotating menu. This time he made carne asada esquites that were so good, just thinking about them is making me hungry. The meal was not infused, but Chef Rudy encourages customers to season and infuse their food at home with products you can purchase inside Tropicanna! Check out his IG for more info.

Nomad Cocktail Co.

I needed something to wash down my esquites, so I went over to @nomadcocktailco and got a mocktail. Maddi, the business owner and former bartender, works with products from @kan_ade_ and Cannabis Quenchers to create specialty drinks that are as delicious and potent as they are pretty. My favorites were the piña drink with the chamoy rim and the blueberry pomegranate, complete with a cempasuchil flower 😋 Check out @nomadcocktailco and @kan_ade_ for more!

La Familia

By far one of my favorite brands, La Familia is Los Angeles based and Latino owned and operated, which is rare in the cannabis industry. I first discovered them when they launched their infused chocolates, which come in flavors like Mazapan, Fresas con Crema, and Cajeta, just to name a few. This time Tania Noyola, the brand ambassador, introduced me to some of their newer products such as their Chocolate Abuelita cookies and their Churro Rice Krispie (both super yum), and their aguas frescas, which come in flavors such as Horchata, Mango, Fresa, and even Limón con Pepino! Rumor has it they even have some chile covered gummies dropping in the next few months. @lafamiliachocolate is definitely a brand you’re going to want to keep tabs on.

Wonderbrett

Wonderbrett is another Los Angeles local vendor and they brought with them artist @eternallovetribe, well known for collaborating with BJ The Chicago Kid and bringing his design to life. The design is now the packaging for one of Wonderbrett’s most popular strains, “Black Orchid,” which is “perfect for relieving stress, anxiety, insomnia, and pain.” It was really cool to watch @eternallovetribe’s art process as they created a custom piece for the event. Check out Wonderbrett’s website here.

Humboldt’s Finest Farms

What makes Humboldt’s Finest Farms different from all the other brands? For starters, they are a co-op of 3 farmers who are all about sustainability and giving back to the community. From the way they grow their plants to the biodegradable packaging, everything that Humboldt Farms does is with intention. Their goal is to produce the highest quality products in the most natural way. Click this link to check out their website.

Dreamt Products

Another minority owned business! Created by Latina scientist, Carolina Vazquez Mitchell, Dreamt Products began when the founder started suffering from insomnia. Dr. Vazquez Mitchell had been working with cannabis since she was 17 years old, and decided to take her experience and combine it with her education to find a natural solution to her problem. Today, Dreamt Products has tinctures and vapes designed to help you get the sleep you need. Click here to find out more!

If you still had room for dessert, Afters Ice Cream was there to satisfy your craving.

Naturally, I went with their mango sorbet and added tajin and chamoy. Not available infused, but still delicious 😉

If you missed the event, don’t fret! Tropicanna told mitú they’re planning on having at least one event every month. As far as what else we have to look forward to in November, they’re having major markdowns for Black Friday and will be having even more for delivery on Cyber Monday. Check out Tropicanna’s website for more info!

Tropicanna can be found at 1628 S. Grand Ave, Santa Ana CA 92705

Questions? Call (714)701-8186 for more information.

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