Day of the Dead is a tradition that honors our past loved ones.
Around this time of the month, from Oct. 20 until the end of the month, families begin decorating their homes with lots of marigolds, special trinkets of their loved ones, and other items.
I pay tribute to so many of my family members, including my great-grandmother who I had the privilege to grow up with until she passed away when I was 11 years old.
Some ofrendas are made in layers -- to simulate the steps souls need to take in order to reach the light, but others are made using a simple shoebox wrapped in colored wrapping paper.
No matter how you create it, You’ll want to have most -- if not all -- items on your ofrenda, listed below:
Also known as perforated paper. This represents the WIND element. The holes in the paper serve as a guide for souls to travel through.
Usually sold at bakeries, sugar skulls represent a departed soul in your life. They normally have the departed person’s name on the skull.
Pan del muerto (Bread of the dead) -
Around this time, bakeries produce this special bread as part of the celebration. The strips on top indicate a skeleton, and the knob on top is the cranium.
Monarch butterflies play a part during Day of the Dead. They represent the spirits of the departed.
A toy dog (or a dog figure)
The dog figurine is not meant to represent the departed pets in your life. The dog represents a guide for your loved ones.
Your loved ones’ favorite food or drink
Do you remember your loved ones’ favorite dish? This is a special time to recreate that special dish of theirs, and place it on the ofrenda to honor how much they’ve enjoyed it.
Photos (especially your most favorite)
A photo of your loved one is special. Place your framed photo on the ofrenda next to their favorite food or drink.
Also known as ‘Cempacuchil’ (Sempa-SOO-chill) -- marigolds are the iconic flower of the dead. These also help guide the spirits on their path.
Glass of water and a plate of salt
Having these two items on the ofrenda helps purify and quench the thirst of the souls.
Have one of two (or 10, depending on the size of your ofrenda). These represent the light that guides the dead toward our world.
Does my ofrenda need to be big?
Every ofrenda is different and you don’t have to stack yours very high. I’ve seen ofrendas stacked as high as seven feet!
Because I have a lot of portraits of family members, I opted to frame them on a tri-fold board (like the ones used in science fairs). But others have opted for boxes to show the levels of the ofrenda.
Also, not all ofrendas may carry a toy dog or a monarch butterfly. These items are purely optional.
Many families add religious items like crosses and photo frames of religious figures such as La Virgen Guadalupe.
What do you place on your ofrenda each year? Share a photo here of your remembrances on Click2Pins.com or drop a message in the comments.