Mexican "Ofrendas" of "Dia de Muertos" (Day of the Dead)

Posted by Julia G on


The 1st and 2nd of November, Mexican families gather together in cemeteries and in their own homes to honor the memory of deceased loved ones. This is known as “Dia de Muertos” or “Dia de los Muetos” (Day of the Dead) celebration.

To prepare for this meaningful and special event beautiful altars called “ofrendas” are seen everywhere in Mexico (public spaces and homes). The ofrenda is often the most recognized symbol of “Día de los Muertos.” It is common belief that during these two days the spirits temporarily return to Earth and the “ofrendas” are a way to welcome them so they can enjoy all the human things again.

ofrenda altar dia de muertos day of the dead

The altar or “ofrenda” is a complex creation with incredible symbolism as each element carries specific meaning. Also the four elements of nature  (fire, water, earth, and air) are explicitly represented.

Candles represent the element of fire and and they serve to illuminate the path of the deceased.

Water to quench the thirst of the deceased after the long journey.

Incense to praise and purify the altar.

Cempasúchil (orange Mexican marigold) it is believed that the bright petals and strong scent can guide the spirits to their family homes and of course they look beautiful in the “ofrendas”.

cempasuchil orange mexican marigold

“Papel picado” which is a delicate, perforated or chiseled tissue paper in different patterns. Represent the element of air and fragility of life. Their vibrant colors and beautiful figures create that special festive mood.

calaverita de azucar sugar skull papel picado

“Calaveritas de Azucar” (sugar skulls) represent death itself but there is nothing grim about these skulls. They are made of sugar, chocolate or amaranth, pressed in molds in the form of skulls and decorated with colorful edible paint, glitter, beads. Usually are the kid’s favorite element in the “ofrenda” and the reminder of the cycle of life.

“Pan de muerto” (bread of the dead) is a delicious sweet bread decorated with bones made from dough.

pan de muerto bread of the dead

Photographs of loved ones who have died are placed on the altar to honor and remember them.

The “ofrenda” also features the favorite foods and drinks of the deceased. Food is an important part of “Dia de Muertos” (Day of the Dead) celebration.

Common drinks such as the delicious Mexican hot chocolate (added with cinnamon and vanilla), atole, champurrado and alcoholic beverages such as pulque, mezcal or tequila are included.

“Mole” and “tamales” are also very popular foods during the festivities.

Celebrating “Día de Muertos” (Day of the Dead) is a true celebration of life. It’s a special time to reflect about death but also a celebration of life itself.

Do you want to continue with this beautiful Mexican tradition? We have authentic Mexican handmade palm baskets and woven napkins 100% cotton. They are great  “ofrenda” decorations supplies. Click the photos below, and a new window will open to our own Mexicandoo Amazon storefront where you can buy them. All of our Mexican handmade products are made under "fair trade" conditions.


mexican palm baskets with woven cotton napkinset handmade palm baskets women napkin

palm baskets with lid woven napkinmexican woven cotton napkin

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