My nightmares are filled with the drunken faces of American college kids smeared with paint depicting garish skulls, twisted toothy grins, hollow cheekbones, black pools of pain for eyes . . . Death isn't the scary part here, it's the ever increasing popularity of the Day of the Dead and its related imagery in American pop culture -- and its identification with all things Mexican. Spring fills me with dread waiting for the 5th of May to come and go, with its cheap sombreros and fiesta promoting beer commercials. Fall now brings craft store advertisements promoting discounts on Day of the Dead face painting kits. If the reduction of a 3,000-year-old pre-Columbian tradition into a sale promo doesn't fill you with nightmares, you're made of sturdier stuff than me.
Let's get back to basics and learn more about the Día de los Muertos, and Pan de Muertos, a simple baked offering for the departed.