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What is the day of the dead in México?

The Day of the Dead is a traditional celebration in México where we remember and honor our deceased family and friends where spirits are honored. Mexico's Day of the Dead, also known as Dia de los Muertos, is a vibrant and captivating tradition that showcases the rich cultural heritage of the country.

The traditions vary by region in México. But normally people create ofrendas which are altars with fruits, drinks, pan de muerto, candles, sugar skulls, papel picado, pictures and flowers.

On November 1, or Día de los Inocentes, we welcome the spirits of deceased children. November 2, is for deceased adults. There's a belief that during these days, those who have passed away come back to the world of the living and enjoy all of the food and drinks their loved ones prepared for them.

During the days of the dead, families often take the opportunity to visit and decorate the graves of loved ones. The cemetery, grave sites are decorated with Marigold (Cempasúchil, or flor de muerto ). The atmosphere is one of joy and celebration rather than sadness, as families come together to honor their loved ones and celebrate their lives.

Regardless of religious beliefs, the altar continues to be a beautiful tradition to honor and celebrate the life of loved ones who have departed this earth.

Altar Day of the dead for Frida Khalo
Frida Kahlo “Day of the Dead” mini altar.

The significance and symbolism of Day of the Dead altars

Day of the Dead altars, also known as ofrendas, are one of the most important traditions of the holiday. The altar is typically set up in the home or at the gravesite of the deceased. It is believed that the spirits of the dead return to the world of the living during this time and the altar serves as a way to guide them back home.

The altar is filled with various elements that have significant meaning. For example, marigolds are commonly used to line the altar and represent the fragility of life. Sugar skulls, or calaveras, are also an important element as they represent death and the afterlife. Candles are lit to guide the spirits home, and copal incense is burned to purify the space and ward off evil spirits.

In addition to the traditional elements, it's important to personalize your altar with photos of your loved ones. This could include photographs, letters, or other items that hold significant meaning. You can place them on the altar or create a separate section for them. When choosing photos and mementos, think about the things that your loved ones enjoyed in life.

Food and drink offerings are also an important part of Day of the Dead altars. It is believed that the spirits of the deceased will return to enjoy their favorite foods and drinks. You can include pan de muerto, a sweet bread that is traditionally eaten during the holiday, as well as favorite foods and drinks of your loved ones.

It's important to remember that the food and drink offerings are not meant to be eaten or drunk by the living. Instead, they are left on the altar as a symbol of remembrance and appreciation for the deceased.

In addition to food and drink offerings, you can also include other items that hold significant meaning for your loved ones. This could include items such as jewelry, toys, or other personal belongings. You can also include a papel picado, a type of Mexican folk art that is made from tissue paper and features intricate designs and patterns.

When choosing items to include on your altar, think about the things that your loved ones cherished in life. Including these items will make your altar more meaningful and personal.

Creating a Day of the Dead altar is a beautiful way to honor and celebrate the lives of your loved ones who have passed away.

Here are common items you can find on an altar in México.

Altar elements for day the dead in mexico

Have a look at our special items for your Mexican Altar.


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