day of the dead altars

by Jacki November. 08, 2015 850 views

I'm quite sure I may have gotten some of the facts wrong as this holiday isn't something I've seen until coming to southern California which has a large Mexican population. It's quite fascinating and I'm learning!

Mexican's celebrate Dia de los Muertos with altars dedicated to their loved ones in the belief that at midnight on November 1st the spirits of the deceased can return to them.

Marigolds are traditionally the flower of the dead and can be used to line a path from the grave to the family doorstep as a way to direct the spirits home…. and the scent of the marigold is meant to draw the spirits home.

While altars are traditionally done by each family for their family members, public altars can erected for specific groups of deceased people… like this simple altar for the people who attempt to illegally cross the desert in to the United States from South America and die in the desert.

The family altars hold some traditional elements… like seasonal fruits … pan de muerto is a traditional bread… the spirits will be hungry when they arrive.

The altars showcase photographs of the family members, some of their belongings, and any religious artifacts that were special to them.

Family members lovingly erect these tributes to their deceased and seem anxious to talk about their loved ones. In the case of this altar, a 20 year old young man died 3 years ago in a car accident while driving to the beach. His aunt was standing beside the altar. She told me about him and about the photo at the very bottom center of the altar… the two people holding hands with a stuffed animal…. which is the father and mother of the deceased. The stuffed animal they are holding between them contains the ashes of their son. They take the stuffed animal with them everywhere as a way to feel like he is still with them.

Vivos los Queremos! This woman was paying tribute to the 43 students in Mexico who disappeared in 2014. They were on a bus going to a protest of government policies, when they were arrested and then turned over to criminal organization and never heard from again.

“La Catrina”… a wealthy woman skeleton symbolizes deaths great equalizing power. Another popular symbol … both in decorations and in costumes. It is a way of laughing a death.

Putting all the pieces together… including candles which are lit to celebrate the spirits return.

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There are 17 comments , add yours!
Stormfish 5 years ago

interesting festival... death is so little understood.

5 years ago Edited
Vizcaino Perez 5 years ago

Amazing post, Jacki! I like very much this way of celebrating. Thanks for sharing!

5 years ago Edited
John Wright 5 years ago

Great story

5 years ago Edited
Olga Helys 5 years ago

Great report

5 years ago Edited
Kara Bana 5 years ago

Dia de los Muertos culture is becoming more common now here, with decorations and La Catrina Halloween costumes being the thing this year. Mexicans sure have a healthy take on death, remembering their loved ones in this celebratory manner, rather than being mournful on the anniversary they died.

5 years ago Edited
Moira 5 years ago

I've been learning too now, did you see my Halloween post from Guanajauto, Mexico I also visit the "Museum of the mummies" there.
It was strange all my photos I took in the museum were blurred, except a Child one , I deleted them as they were pretty scary to look at.
Thanks for sharing this Mexican tradition which is so more close to my heart now.

5 years ago Edited
Antonio Gil 5 years ago

Very interesting report of this celebration.

5 years ago Edited
Asiamack 5 years ago

Love, they say also lives vividly in tradition and faith

5 years ago Edited
Richix 5 years ago

A really interesting posting with super photos. Thank you very much for sharing both.

5 years ago Edited
Louise Hayes 5 years ago

Wow probably the most amazing post ever....thank you for sharing.

5 years ago Edited
Gillian Parsons 5 years ago

So much to see and feel here, sadness but brilliant colour.......thank you for posting this and providing all the information.

5 years ago Edited
Jay 5 years ago

I remember participating in some celebrations when living in LA. I had kind of forgotten about it and the culture associated with it. Good report here, Lois Lane!

5 years ago Edited
Dan Ravasio 5 years ago

Fascinating report... Thanks for sharing Jacki!

5 years ago Edited
Marilyn Grimble 5 years ago

What a wonderful display of colour - thanks for sharing!

5 years ago Edited
Stefan Fletcher 5 years ago

What a moving post. I don't know whether I would call these "altars"; they look like shrines to me. Thanks for sharing these.

5 years ago Edited
Bill Baird 5 years ago

Great post !!

5 years ago Edited
Delightfulpink 5 years ago


5 years ago Edited