Pan de muerto is Spanish for ‘bread of the dead’ – it is a type o f sweet roll traditionally baked in Maxico during the weeks leading up to the Dia de Muertos, which is celebrated from October 31st to November 2nd.
It is a sweetened soft bread shaped like a bun, often decorated with bone-shaped phalanges pieces. Pan de muerto is eaten on Día de Muertos, at the gravesite or alternatively, at a tribute called an ofrenda.
In some regions, it is eaten for months before the official celebration of Dia de Muertos. In Oaxaca, pan de muerto is the same bread that is usually baked, with the addition of decorations.
As part of the celebration, loved ones eat pan de muerto as well as the relative’s favorite foods. The bones represent the deceased one (difuntos or difuntas) and there is normally a baked tear drop on the bread to represent goddess Chimalma’s tears for the living. The bones are represented in a circle to portray the circle of life. The bread is topped with sugar.
Bread of the Dead usually has skulls or crossbones engraved on it. It is believed the spirits do not eat, but absorb its essence, along with water at their ofrenda, after their long journey back to Earth.