It’s Halloween tomorrow! Since it’s on a Saturday, I bet many of you are looking for ways to fill up your whole day with Halloween activities culminating with trick-or-treating in the evening. I have something fun you can do to lead into one extra day of fun.
I have a Horchata recipe that is yummy for the whole family to enjoy. The way I serve it fits perfectly into a Dia de los Muertos celebration or just to enjoy after a night of trick-or-treating on Halloween. Of course, if you are throwing a Halloween party, especially with a Dia de los Muertos theme, this is great for adults and children alike. But, first let the kids dive into creating serving glasses for the party with a fun Halloween craft.
I took Mason jars and used stickers to create the emblematic sugar skulls on the jars. If you and your kids are more artistic and want to get messy, you could let them paint the designs on the jars as well. Wouldn’t it be fun to make these on Halloween day and serve drinks in them the next day on Dia de los Muertos. In the Mexican culture, sugar skulls represent a departed soul. When they are offered to the dead on Dia de los Muertos, they are placed lovingly on an altar for the deceased along with other ofrenda, such as the person’s favorite foods and drinks when they were alive. Sugar skull art reflects the folk art style of big happy smiles, colorful icing and sparkly tin and glittery adornments, and they are anything but creepy.
History of Sugar Skulls & Dia de los Muertos
Clay molded sugar figures go back to the Colonial Period 18th century. Sugar art was brought to the New World by Italian missionaries in the 17th century. The first Church mention of sugar art was from Palermo at Easter time when little sugar lambs and angels were made to adorn the side altars in the Catholic Church. Mexico, abundant in sugar production and too poor to buy fancy imported European church decorations, learned quickly from the friars how to make sugar art for their religious festivals. Thus, the sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos.
Origins of the modern Mexican holiday goes back to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The holiday has spread throughout the world, being absorbed within other deep traditions for honoring the dead. Dia de los Muertos is rooted in Southern and Central Mexico where the indigenous people have combined Catholic holidays, All Soul’s & All Saint’s Day with their own ancient beliefs of honoring their deceased loved ones. They believe that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them.
Originally, the Day of the Dead as such was not celebrated in northern Mexico, where it was even unknown until the 20th century. Before then the people and the church rejected it in northeastern Mexico because they perceived the day was a result of syncretizing pagan elements with Catholicism. They held the traditional ‘All Saints Day’ in the same way as other Catholics in the world. Even today, much of Northern Mexico, with its less indigenous and more European roots, spend the day scrubbing graves and going to Mass, not having music, drinks and parties in the cemeteries.
Traditionally, you may see Atole or Mexican hot chocolate served at a celebration as the season is turning cooler and people prefer warmer drinks. However, we Californians are going for a cooler popular Mexican drink, still full of warm spice, the Horchata. Served in my thematically decorated Mason Jars, it makes for the perfect Halloween or Dia de los Muertos drink.
Horchata with Cinnamon and Vanilla
2 cups long or extra-long white rice
3 cups hot water
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
4 cups milk
1 1/4 cup sugar
Ground cinnamon to sprinkle on top, optional
Place the rice in a bowl and cover with hot water. Roughly crumble a piece of cinnamon into the rice mix and let is all sit and rest anywhere from 2 to 8 hours outside of the refrigerator.
Place half of the rice mixture in the blender with half of the milk and vanilla and blend until smooth, then strain into a pitcher or container. Place the other half of the rice mixture in the blender with the remaining milk and the sugar, pure until smooth and strain into the same pitcher or container.
Stir well and serve over ice cubes, or place in the refrigerator until it is cold. Serve with more ice cubes to your liking, and sprinkle some ground cinnamon on top if you wish.