How to make a Day of the Dead altar
Why make an altar for the Day of the Dead?
Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrates the spirits of one’s deceased family. It is traditional to build an altar each year on November 01 and 02 to honor their memories and provide a feast for any spirits who visit on this occasion. The altars built are called “ofrenda”. Each person participating in building that particular altar can place something on the altar which is symbolic of the person they wish to remember. Offerings will normally include the favorite items of those expected to visit — foods, toys, jewelry, etc.
Traditional offerings for an ofrenda
- Food such as chicken, corn, and chocolate
- Votive candles
- Flowers (marigolds are traditional)
- A glass of water for each visiting spirit
- Photos of the deceased
- Saint statuary
- Sugar skulls
- Skeleton figurines
- Pan de muertos (bread for the dead)
How to construct an ofrenda
The process of making an ofrenda is organic. Start off with a shallow table, drape some fabric for a background, and go from there. Arrange taller objects toward the back, and smaller ones at the front. If you are honoring several people, arrange the items for each person together.