Baking Spirit Bread for All Saints Day

Posted by Monika Meulman on

Which special ancestors and spirits day do you celebrate during this time of year?

baking spirit bread for november to celebrate your family and honour your ancestors

Have you ever baked spirit bread?

For our monthly Health Column, in South Etobicoke News, we explore the ways in which we can all honour and celebrate Halloween weekend, Samhain, All Souls day. 




The light and incense have been used for generations to carry prayers up to souls in the worlds beyond ours.

"smoke of the incense went up with the prayers of God’s people from the hand of the angel before God.”
                                  -Revelations 8:1-4

black incense cauldron to burn resin and incense cones

Spirit bread - pan de ánimas recipe for November

One part love in your heart
Half cup of prayers
1 cup white flour
2 cups of contemplation
1 tspn of the salt of life
and a hefty sprinkling of faith
Bake in a kitchen warmed by hearty laughter and a warm, loving heart

Intention is everything.

For the month of November, join millions of people around the world and celebrate a day (or more) dedicated to the spirits of our ancestors. Maybe you honour All Saints Day, The Day of the Dead or All Souls Day. Guaranteed, one of those versions is a part of your distant cultural past. The traditional celebration of Dia de los Muertos can be traced back to Mesoamerica over 3000 years. According to Mexican tradition, this holiday begins October 31 and lasts until November second.
ofrenda in a village in mexico for prayers
Are you participating this year? Lighting a candle for your loved ones?

candle light can be your sacred fire for prayers

Do you light candles?

Or offer flowers for loved ones passed?

Maybe you build a colourful ofrenda (home altar) for offerings. ofrenda or traditional Mesoamerican altar for honouring sacred traditions and offerings
No matter your origin story, you may enjoy lighting a candle or two as the days get shorter. After all, lighting a candle can create a meditative space in any room. It has been shown to be an effective meditation technique for beginner and master alike.
In Trataka, which means 'gaze' in Sanskrit, you look upon a lighted candle with intention. Your gaze is soft and unwavering. As you focus on this small point, your mind slows and quiets.
A lit candle can also help you in prayer since it represents the light of Christ, in Christianity. Lighting candles for loved ones passed, is a bright and soothing way to remember their lives. In the Jewish religion, there is a beautiful tradition of lighting a Yahrtzeit Candle, and we are invited to read the words: 'The candle of God is the soul of a person', as we light the flame. (learn more here:
Thus, hot on the heels of Halloween, which is usually an evening of dressing up, candy and parties, comes upon us the spirit season. This is a season of blessings and contemplation. Whether you honour ancient traditions or celebrate a religious day of all souls, you can feel the spirited energy of November. The days almost have a hazy, smoky air, as if the spirits beckon us to remember them. Take this opportunity to celebrate the spirits of our ancestors and honour those who have come before us; we are invited to remember.
a foggy november walk through the forest to reconnect to nature

That’s an interesting concept isn’t it?

When we look to our ancestors, light a candle as a connection to their spirit, remember all those who have come before us, we are directly connecting to our past. This past is celebrated. It's in stark contrast to our modern practice to look forward, to move forward, to make progress and expand. You may argue that looking to the past holds us back. 
But in this context, does it?
It is an interesting time of year. 
As we honour our ancestors and create an offering, we put aside moments to dedicate to the past. We may offer our prayers in the kitchen as we cook extra meals with the over flowing harvest. Maybe you are inspired to bake some 'pan de ánimas',  a spirit bread that is offered as feast and a gratitude of abundance.  Did you know in pre-Christian Europe, it was common to stoke kitchen fires bright all night long and offer gifts of food and drink for the spirits of the dead? This was the historical all souls day: Samhain. So many cultures, across the lands, believe that the veil is thin at this time of year. That there is a certain spirited connection in this air; the gates between the worlds are open.
the veil between worlds is thin in the fall months
I welcome all the history to come to light, to the light of a candle, because it offers us a richer connection to the past. For all souls day and baking our spirit bread we are invited to look to the past with respect and honour instead of a wondering of 'what if' or regret. It allows us to move forward with grace, power, confidence that we are on the right path as we keep in our hearts all those that have come before us. With delicious feasts and harvests in our kitchens, candles burning bright and generous offerings to our families, friends and communities, we can rest assured we are stepping into a future of which our ancestors approve.
falling rose petals in the air
In the words of a Guatemalan native:
"Day of the Dead here is similar to Thanksgiving in the United States, because people travel across the country to be reunited with family members, living and dead" - from Day of the Dead in the USA by Regina M. Marchi
“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is to be present in the present. Gratefully.” Maya Angelou

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