DALLAS — Día de los Muertos happens to fall around the same time as Halloween, but that doesn’t mean they’re the same, according to Andrea Pedraza, owner of CocoAndre Chocolatier & Horchateria in Oak Cliff.
“I’m Mexican, so I celebrate the way we Mexicans celebrate,” Pedraza said in front of an altar to her mother who died in 2014.
The altar is called an ofrenda, and relatives often place food, drinks and items the deceased enjoyed in life.
“A remembrance for departed ones,” Pedraza said. “To me it is a way of honoring their lives. Celebrating their lives.”
While Halloween is supposed to be spooky, Día de los Muertos is supposed to be spiritual. It’s a day your loved ones come back from the realm of the dead, not to scare, but to celebrate.
“They are in our hearts,” said Pedraza.
The decorative skulls, called calaveras, are traditionally sculpted from sugar, but are almost always smiling.
“We believe that our ancestors are happy coming back to visit with us at least for one day,” said Pedraza.
Pedraza makes her calaveras out of one of the many gifts her ancestors gave to the world…chocolate made from cacao beans.
“They come from Mexico,” Pedraza said. “Their roots are there.”
Every year, Pedraza travels to Mexico for the best ingredients, but also the culture. This year, with a global pandemic, her trips were canceled. That means no colorful day of the dead celebrations south of the border.
But true to her roots, Pedraza is looking on the bright side.
“I’m not sad,” Pedraza said. “I’m not upset. I’m just living one day at a time. It’s a very different way of life.”
That way of life, she says, means focusing on the light, instead of the loss.
Click here to learn more about CocoAndre Chocolatier & Horchateria.