Southwest Detroit, often thought of as just another destination for great Mexican food (hello, Mexicantown), will be buzzing with Day of the Dead Festivities. Traditionally held in Mexico Nov. 1-2, events in Detroit will be scheduled Oct. 29-Nov. 2.
Some might mistake the Day of the Dead as connected in some way to Halloween, but there’s no actual connection. The Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is a holiday celebrated mainly in Mexico and those of Mexican decent in the U.S. and Canada. Participants pray for and remember friends and relatives that have died, but it is not a day of mourning; it is, simply, a celebration of that individual’s life. Some traditions include building private alters honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed. (1)
As with most ethnic celebrations, there are some traditional foods to be expected. In Mexico, bakeries offer Pan de Muerto (Day of the Day bread) at the beginning of October. The bread is made with flour, butter, sugar, eggs, orange peel, anise and yeast. The bread is topped with strips of dough simulating bones, and at the top, a small round piece of dough that symbolizes teardrops. Calabaza en Tacha, a dessert made with pumpkin, cinnamom and piloncillo (dark sugar cones) is also a favorite. (2)
Obviously, in a city as diverse as Detroit, you should be able to find an assortment of bakeries serving Day of the Dead bread. More importantly, these celebrations are open to anyone interested.
A Haunted Theatre will be held Oct. 29-31 at Matrix Theatre, 2730 Bagley, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The production will present the story of La Llorona, a mother with a broken heart who drowns her children in the river. This traditional Mexican yarn is used as a cautionary tale to keep young children from going out late – La Llorna will come and get them! Google “La Llorna” and you’ll see some pretty frightening images that would scare any adult.
The Run of the Dead will be held on Oct. 30 and starts at 9 a.m. at Patton Park. This one’s a 5K and 10K run, which runs through the business district and in Holy Cross and Woodmere Cemeteries.
School tours of Mexicantown about the history and tradition of Day of the Dead are scheduled for Nov. 1-2.
For more information about any of these southwest Detroit events, call (313) 842-0986 or visit www.savorsouthwestdetroit.com.
1) Savor Southwest Detroit, www.savorsouthwestdetroit.com
2) Inside Mexico, http://www.inside-mexico.com/featuredead.htm