sample Oaxaca trunk
ethnography: OFRENDA, ALTAR FOR DAY OF THE DEAD
The festival of Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead is really two days. It begins on November 1 to commemorate children who have died and continues on November 2 for deceased adults. It is associated with All Soul's Day in the Catholic ritual calendar but its roots are much older than the Catholicism that the Spaniards brought to Mexico. Hundreds of years before Europeans arrived in what is now Mexico, Aztecs commemorated the dead during elaborate festivals. Today, Día de los Muertos is a holiday to celebrate the memories of family and friends who have died at any time of the year. Cemeteries are cleaned and fresh flowers (golden marigolds and deep red velvety cockscomb) cover the graves. Sometimes, elaborate altars, called ofrendas, are created inside the home. Pan de Muertos (Day of the Dead bread) as well as candles, flowers, photos of the deceased, drinks, bowls of food and fruit are put on the ofrenda so that the souls of the deceased family members can eat the essence of the food. After the evening has passed, members of the family eat the food, sometimes picnicking in the cemetery.