I’m o excited that Dia de los Muertos is coming! It’s funny how adding a baby to the family makes you want to revive traditions. Anyhoo … I’ve been digging around the family photo book and planning the decorations to create a Dia de los Muertos altar for our family. We need to commemorate: my mom, my grandma, my great grandma and my great great grandma. As I’m working on our family’s altar it occurs to me that everyone might not know what to include in a Dia de los Muertos altar. Here are some ideas:
Photos of the deceased – Large, formal ones are good, but smaller candids are also good.
Marigolds – Cempasuchitl, the Aztec term for “marigolds,” grow and wilt quickly, reflecting the fleeting nature of life. Their aroma helps lure a spirit back.
Pan de muerto – bread in shapes that represent death.
Fruit — specifically tejocotes and oranges.
Papel Picado – Black represents death, purple means grief or mourning, pink is for celebration, white symbolizes hope, and yellow stands in for the sun.
Sugar skulls – Calaveras, are representations of human skulls.
Candles – to welcome spirits to the altars. Four candles at the top represent the cardinal directions and provide a lighted path to this world.
Incense – Often copal. Burning copal is a holdover tradition from the Aztecs, who used the incense as an offering to the gods.
Salt – a symbol of purification.
A glass of water – to refresh the dead after their journey.
Favorite foods of the deceased – whatever tasty foods they like.
Favorite items of the deceased – books, tools and other items that the deceased enjoyed while alive.
Have I forgotten anything? What do you put on your altar?