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Day of the dead skulls: a sweet and ancient tradition

25 mayo, 2021

During this season, the markets and various businesses are filled with unique figures that remind us that we are not eternal. Of course, they do it in a sweet and tempting way: day of the dead skulls They are ready to show off in the offerings and remind us of those who are gone.

Have you ever wondered where these Day of the Dead skulls come from? Today we explain its ancestral history and more curiosities that you should know about this tradition.

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The altars of Teotihuacán

Without a doubt, you have ever visited this archaeological zone that is very close to Mexico City. In this place was the tzompantli, an altar of the dead where they placed the skulls of those defeated in war in order to honor the gods.

The tzompantli was not typical of Teotihuacán, it is said that other pre-Columbian cultures also made this type of tribute to their deities.

With the arrival of the Spanish to American lands, the tzompantlis were prohibited by the precepts of the Catholic religion. However, there was a cultural resistance from the native peoples, who did not allow their traditions to disappear.

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The arrival of the weaklings

The tzompantlis replaced with figures made with cane sugar, egg white, lemon, and a binding substance called chaute.

This technique to make sweets is the same that is used with the Spanish weaklings, which they inherited from the Arabs. This sweet became part of the folk jams of the Colony in Latin America.

In fact, it was the convents themselves where the skulls began to be made in alfeñique and sugar paste.

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Curiosities you should know about the Day of the Dead skulls

They are one of the most important symbols in the Day of the Dead offering

The name of the deceased to whom the offering is dedicated is usually written on the forehead of the skull. Although it can also have the name of a living person if it is going to be given as a gift.

In addition to being made of sugar, you can find them made with amaranth, chocolate and even gummies.

Those of the tzompantli were not always real skulls: some indigenous peoples honored their deceased with skulls made of clay or carved in stone.

In Toluca, every November 2, the “Alfeñique Fair” is held, where you can enjoy a great variety of typical sweets of these dates.

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