Bread of the Dead

Posted on 8 Jan, 2018

Bread of the Dead

Bread of the Dead (Pan de muerto) is a kind of sweet bun baked in Mexico before the Day of the Dead. This roll is often decorated with chopsticks in the shape of bones and a tear. The bones, of course, symbolize the dead, and are arranged in a circle that symbolizes the circle of life.

The tear depicts the tear of the goddess Chimalma; which in Aztec mythology was the mother of Toltec and Quetzalcoatl. Her tear also symbolizes life. This bread is richly sprinkled with sugar.

There are also other interpretations: when the bread of the dead has 4 lines, it is believed that they reflect the four main points of the Aztec calendar, which in turn presents the four main deities of Aztec mythology.

Origin and recipe

The Bread of the Dead was already known in the pre-Hispanic era; but then it was made of amaranth grains with honey. Initially, the bread had the shape of animals (turtles, crocodiles or rabbits); which indicates the Aztec origin. Often the bread of amaranth was dipped in blood from the heart of the sacrifice on the altar and eaten by the shaman.

To give an end to this tradition, the Spaniards began to bake their own bread from wheat flour; initially in the shape of a heart. It is assumed that from that time the Aztecs began to consider this bread as a sacred.

Eggs, wheat flour, butter, sugar and a little orange peel, which gives it a beautiful yellow color.

Details ? In Spanish here: Recipe

The Bread of the Dead is eaten on the Day of the Dead, it is also left to the deceased in the cemeteries and on the altars made for predecessors in the houses.
In some regions of the country, it is baked out a few weeks before the Day of the Dead; in others it is not very different from bread baked throughout the year (as is the case in the Oaxaca region); on the Day of the Dead, only decorations are added.

Mexicans believe that this bread allows the dead to absorb its essence in combination with water, which is also left on the Altars of the Dead. This allows the deceased to recover after a long journey to the ground.

Various names

In Mexico City, the Bread of the Dead is called hojaldra, and some ethnic groups use pink sugar to decorate it.

In Mixquic it is called despeinadas and it is decorated with colorful sprinkles or sesame seeds.

In Michoacan, the Bread of the Dead includes: pan de ofrenda, pan de hule and corundas, the latter are not sweet at all, but seasoned with tomato sauce and chile de arbol.