EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Felix Marquez Nats says “We celebrate those who have passed and remember the things they loved to do and this tradition has gone on for centuries.” Felix Marquez has been rolling out the dough for Pan de Muerto or “Bread of The Dead” for more than three decades. Marquez welcomed us into his kitchen to watch the shaping and baking of bread that represents the skulls of the deceased, a way to entice them to come back to the land of the living. “The smell of the flowers, the bread, the food, the tamales, it’s for the people who died,” Co-owner Mayret Aca-Martinez says the loaf of bread is placed on the Ofrendas or altar as an offering to your loved ones who have passed on,
“We make these Ofrendas to honor the people that passed.” Her daughter Maya says the Muerto is filled with symbolism, “Hojaldra is the type of shape that the bread is made into and the bigger figurines on top are the bones of a person. And there are four sides of it. So one represents fire, earth, air and water, and that’s kind of the stages that we go through.”
The bread is meant to nourish the dead when they return to the land of the living during Dia de los Muertos, a shrine that includes their favorite beverages, and garlands of bright marigolds, a flower that symbolizes the brevity of life. Maya explains, “In Mexico it’s only known as the flower for de los Muertos, the smell and the colorful yellow is very symbolic of the day of the dead.”
Maya says the Ofrendas are a reminder that life is eternal and that the presence of the deceased loved one is everlasting, “Right here in the center where the photo of our loved one would always be at. And then we would have the food or the pan de Muerto that we made today and then a drink, their favorite drink or water is
also put on the Ofrenda because of the long walk that they had to go through to come over here.”
Dia de los Muertos coincides with All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day on November 1st and 2nd, a time of Celebration, to re-connect and honor those who have gone before us. Maya says, “My grandma, I didn’t know her but we still do an Ofrenda because they are people we cherish, the people that we know about and I think it’s very important to still have them in our lives.