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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture File: Mexico series at SpanishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring essential cultural information about Mexico, Mexican Culture, and Mexican People. In this lesson, we’re going to learn about a popular Mexican holiday. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 1 - Day of the Dead
The Day of the Dead, or "Día de Muertos" in Spanish, is a celebration that blends pre-Hispanic traditions and Christian beliefs. In contrast to European festivities, in which people wear black clothes, in Mexico people celebrate with vibrant and colorful decorations and events.
On the eve of the festival, many families erect altars decorated with marigolds and multicolored paper flags. These altars are also adorned with offerings, such as food and beverages, which add a variety of hues to the celebration. Similarly, the pantheons, or "panteones", wear their best clothes, waiting for a visit from the deceased, in Spanish called "difuntos", along with the thousands of others who travel to their hometowns to be with their family, or "familia", and remember their loved ones.
On November 1st, the “muertos chiquitos,” referring to deceased children, are celebrated. It’s said that on that day the spirits of deceased children visit their former homes, so toys, candies, chocolates, and honey are placed on altars, or "altares", and the graves, or "tumbas", to sweeten their visit to this world. The return of the adult spirits is anticipated for the following night, for whom altars are also decorated with what used to be their favorite treats. Among the most traditional dishes is "pan de muerto", meaning literally - bread of the dead. This treat is essentially a round piece of bread covered with sugar. Other offerings include “pulque”, “mole”, “tamales“, and “atole."
Days before the festival, shops and houses are decorated with humorous scenes of skeletons, or "calaveras", and nowadays it is common to find hints of Halloween characters as well. In traditional markets, all imaginable kinds of toys, decorations and candies that allude to death shine brightly.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Have you ever tried the traditional bread of the dead?
Leave a comment telling us at SpanishPod101.com! Until next time!