The Dí­a de Muertos Ofrenda

Day of the Dead celebrations centre around the belief that, for this day, the souls of beloved departed can return. It is a belief that is steeped in tradition, history, religion and culture and is another example of the syncretism that bound new and old world values together. Although celebrations to honour souls of the departed can be traced back to Toltec times, it is believed that modern Día de los Muertos celebrations are linked to the, relatively, more recent Aztec Empire. The Aztecs worshipped Mictecacihuatl, Goddess of Death, and the month of August was devoted to celebrations for her. After colonisation, and the introduction of Christianity, these traditions were merged with the Catholic All Souls celebrations.

November 1 is generally referred to as Dí­a de los Inocentes (“Day of the Innocents” to remember children who have died) but also as Dí­a de los Angelitos (“Day of the Little Angels”); November 2 is referred to as Día de los Muertos or Dí­a de los Difuntos (“Day of the Dead” to celebrate the adults who have passed on).  Dia de los Muertos is the collective term for the three days of celebrations, which begin on October 31 with the construction of the altars (ofrendas).

dia de los muertos ofrenda
An ofrenda (Wikipedia)

The ofrendas are perhaps the most vital part of the celebrations and can be as elaborate or as simple as the creators want them to be. However, there are a few items that should be included in every ofrenda.  Here is a list of some of them…

Six Items in the Dí­a de Muertos Ofrenda

Skulls Calaveras Made of sugar and water, they represent the people who have passed and who are receiving the offerings at the altar.
Marigolds Flor de muerto The brightly coloured petals and strong scent of these orange blooms help attract souls to the altar.
Perforated Paper Papel picado The spaces in the perforated paper allow souls to travel through for their visit.
Bread of the dead Pan de Muerto A soft and sweet bread designed to look like skulls and crossbones. It is placed alongside other favourite foodstuffs of the departed family members.
Salt Sal It is often set out in the shape of a cross to help purify the soul and keep it from being corrupted.
Photographs Fotos Photos of the deceased are placed on the altar to attract the souls of the departed to crossover for the day.

 Get the How-To Guide to Create Your Own Ofrenda

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For more information on Dí­a de Los Muertos celebrations and history, check out the following links:

Ancient Origins


Mexican Folk Art

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The Dia de los muertos ofrenda and how to make one


Check out these fun educational activities!

dia de muertos workbook


Make Your Own Dia de Muertos Ofrenda

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  1. James J. Cudney IV November 1, 2019 at 2:18 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I learned about it years ago in school but had forgotten a lot. What a great way to teach us!

    1. K D November 1, 2019 at 2:45 pm

      You’re welcome! 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. pick1solution November 3, 2019 at 11:52 am

    Thank you for this one. I have been aware of “FELIZ DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS” and all the thing that go alone with the celebration. I have forgotten a lot of the facts and traditions over the years. You are a diamond in the stream that must be found. .

    1. K D November 20, 2019 at 12:12 pm

      Thanks so much. I’m glad you enjoy the posts and the little lessons along the way 🙂

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