Day of the Dead – Preparations
Music; Ambience: Mexican music
JM: Imagine throwing a party for all your friends and family who have passed away. Well, this time of year, that’s exactly what people in Oaxaca and other parts of Mexico are doing, while celebrating the Day of the Dead. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History. According to tradition, once a year, the spirits of the dead are allowed to return to the earth for a reunion with the living.
JFU: “When the Day of the Dead comes, what people do is to prepare themselves to be the host of the spirits of the dead. And for that, they prepare an altar. Usually on this altar you will find pictures of the loved ones.”
JM: Juan Francisco Urrusti is a documentary filmmaker living in Mexico.
JFU: “People put different kinds of flowers. The dead are supposed to like their gaudy colors, and to appreciate their subtle scent. The dead like subtle scents and subtle flavors. And you will find things that the loved ones used to like. They come back as spirits, but they are able to see everything and to participate with us. And that’s why you’ll find chocolate, and the things that were dearest to those relatives. You will also see on the altar, the beverages, the drinks that the dead used to like. Possibly you will see tequila, or you will see mescal, or beer, chocolate, and you put a little bit of the mole, or chicken curry Mexican style, that the family will eat. You put aside a bit of everything that you eat for the dead. It’s as if they were alive in that moment. And the next day, all these goods lose their aroma. And thus, people say, ‘You see, this is the proof that the spirits actually come back, they take away the odors. They can’t eat as we do eat, no, but the way you’re eating is by taking the odors of the goods you put on the table.”
JM: In future programs, we’ll hear more about the foods prepared especially for the Day of the Dead. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I’m Jim Metzner.