You’re probably familiar with a lot of popular Day of the Dead imagery that shows up in late October — the face painting, the colorful paper flowers.
But do you know the elements that make up a traditional altar, or what sugar skulls mean during Dia de los Muertos? Each item has a specific meaning and purpose.
From traditional altar items to what foods are used to celebrate the Day of the Dead, primarily in Mexico, Central America and the United States, read on to learn more about this holiday.
What does Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, celebrate?
Dia de los Muertos is a celebration of expression in many ways. Not only is it dedicated to remembering and honoring those loved ones who have passed, it’s centrally focused on the artistic expression of the living through the creation of ofrendas, costumes, cooking and other tokens and offerings.
When is Day of the Dead?
Each year, it starts Oct. 31 and ends Nov. 2.
What is an ofrenda?
A Day of the Dead altar that typically includes marigolds, candles, food and pictures of dead loved ones. People set them up in their homes, at cemeteries and other places that hold significance.
What is the purpose of the marigold petals leading up to the altars?
They are believed to help spirits find the altar.
What is the purpose of toy skulls and skeletons in Day of the Dead celebrations?
Among other things, it’s a means to introduce children to the concept of death without fear.
What does the sugar in sugar skulls represent?
The sweetness of life.
What is pan de muerto?
It’s a sweet bread traditionally made for Day of the Dead offering
The Yucatan Times Newsroom