Glossary

*Courtesy of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History's Program of Latino History and Culture*

 

 

ALFENIQUES

objects such as animals, miniature plates of food, small coffins, or skulls (calaveras) that are skulpted out of sugar and elaborately decorated.

 

ANTEPASADOS

ancestors; the ones who are given offerings by their families and friends

 

ATOLE

a hot beverage made with ground corn powder or cornstarch

 

CALACAS

skulls and skeletons that are shown in a variety of activities


COMPARSA

a group of street performers (dancers, singers, and/or musicians) that participates in Spanish and Latin American carnivals and festivities 

 

CEMPASUCHITL

yellow or orange marigolds, the flower of the dead, used to adorn gaves and altars

 

MOJIGANGAS

giant puppets made of paper mache

 

MOLE

a chocolate-based sause made with herbs and spices, usually served on chicken or turkey

 

OFRENDA

an "offering" or altar where food, candles, flowers, pictures and mementos--things that brought joy to the departed person's life--are placed

 

PAN DE MUERTO

"bread of the dead," baked into different shapes and placed on the ofrenda

 

PAPEL PICADO

"punched paper," paper banners decorated with elaborate designs.  

 

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