Monday, November 8, 2010

Our First Ofrenda!

With all that is happening, I'm amazed that we were actually able to set up our ofrenda for this year's dia de muertos. Although this post is slightly late (as usual!), I can assure you that our altar was indeed set up on the right day :)

There is SO much behind the concept of Dia de Muertos - that I won't do it justice by attempting to explain the traditions that surround this event. I'm sure there are websites out there that do a far better job of detailing the historic, cultural, and local beliefs that blend together into creating this fascinating holiday.

But I will give you a little rundown as I understand it:

  • November 2nd is definitely one of the most important days on the Mexican calendar. People decorate altars inside their homes for loved ones who have passed. The idea is to create an offering so that when your loved one comes to "visit" on the 2nd, s/he finds an altar decorated with things that they loved during their life.
  • The idea of skulls and skeletons bring to mind horrific images of death - but that isn't the case at all. Here they are used to represent the dead mimicking the living; in fact, some of the skulls are made of sugar and given to children. This allows them to realize early on that death is a part of life and they shouldn't fear it. 
  • Come late October, Mexico is covered in the symbolic orange of the Cempazuchitl flowers (marigolds) and smells of the burning incense from its bark. 
  • And last, but surely not least, one of the best parts of dia de muertos - Pan de Muertos. Only baked this time of the year, this sweet bread is made with anis and mandarin water, and also used as an offering on the altars. In our case, it was used day and night for a week to satisfy our carb cravings. We started looking like pan de muertos already. But it is oh-so-good!
So here are some photos of our humble altar in our space restricted apartment :) It's the first of I'm sure what will be many to come over the years... 

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