Inspired by a El Dia de los Muertos Street Festival last year that I wrote about, I have created an altar(ofrenda) in my home.  These altars are to remember and honor the dead.  November 1 is All Saints Day and November 2 is All Souls Day.  The Day of the Dead is celebrated November 2  although some seem to combine the two days.

Day of the Dead –
Paths of flower petals and
burning incense guide
spirits to the house of the living.
Tables with favorite food and drink.
orange and yellow flowers,
all offered to the spirits.
Then the living go to
graves of the dead.
Custom says ill fortune, illness
death or worse
may befall
those who make no offerings.

Who will decorate my grave?
Who will bring me food?
Who will talk to me?
No one.
Cremation may be best f or me.
Nov. 2016

Below is a closer look at my orfenda   The pocket knife is for my father; the clip earrings for my mother; the wine bottle for another relative; the carnations for a friend; matches with Mexican Loteria characters for those that loved to gamble; sage for cleansing.  I needed marigolds!  Maybe next year.



33 thoughts on “DAY OF THE DEAD ALTAR (ofrenda)

  1. Love your Altar Jo.. and I often light a candle in remembrance. and although my altar is not specifically for this occasion. I know those whose names we utter, they feel our hearts..

    Loved that you shared your altar with us.. xxx ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beautiful ‘ceremony’ in a way — an honoring of the dead, of those who once lived and who are still in our hearts and souls.
    When I was young (pre-teen) I set up my own altar in my room. I didn’t know why – I just had to do it. My parents were a bit worried about me. I kneeled in front of it for about half an hour a day, not praying to anything or anyone, but just …. I don’t know…. feeling. Perhaps it was a precursor to meditating, which I’d never heard of at that time. An altar is a symbol of our spirt giving homage I think – to the world, the earth, to others, and to ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, thank you so much for sharing your younger experience. I love your explanation of an altar where we give homage to the world, earth others and ourselves. And for me it is a recognition of the mystery of life and the world. I grew up Baptist (don’t practice now) but always loved visiting Catholic churches were there were so many symbols and rituals. And I grew up visiting cemeteries with my mother and still visit relatives’ graves when I can. An altar makes it convenient to focus on the departed for a couple of days. Your visits and comments are always special! Thank you!


  3. What a lovely orfenda! My husband and I will be attending the local Dia de los Muertos celebration this evening… perhaps I’ll pick up a few items for my alter. As far as the dates of Dia de los Muertos celebrations are concerned, my understanding is that at midnight on October 31, the souls of all deceased children come down from heaven and reunite with their families (November 1st), and the souls of deceased adults visit on November 2.

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  4. A Mexican friend told me just a couple of days ago that they always include water and salt at their altar, too. It’s a long journey, after all, and the departed might get thirsty as they travel! I’m hoping to have time to get down to Galveston tomorrow and see the altars at the Broadway cemeteries. It’s such a wonderful tradition, and in some ways not unlike what we used to do at Memorial Day: cleaning the graves, putting out flowers, and sometimes even having picnics there. Some impulses are human at their heart — they only take different forms in different cultures.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Water and salt make sense. I would love to see the altars at Broadway cemeteries too. So many people these days do not visit cemeteries or take flowers. Yes, we choose different ways to follow our hearts when acknowledging loss and death, something we all share as humans. I hope you get down to Galveston!

      Liked by 1 person

    • As a child my mother took me to cemeteries in East Texas so it seems natural to visit. This is the first time I have created an altar but I may do it next year also. It seems a way to honor all those that are gone and remember them even if I cannot go to the cemetery where they are buried. Always nice to hear from you!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, where does the time go? You are the only one who commented on the American Gothic couple! I found them in Progresso, Mexico when we visited a few months ago and could not resist buying them. Glad you liked and noticed them. And thanks for remembering last year! Take care!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jo Nell, I slipped quietly into your photograph. I stood just behind you as you lit the candles, and carefully placed the precious memories in front of the alter. I said my prayers at your alter and left a bit of my heart behind.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You have a way of understanding and putting yourself into the scene, Virginia. Your heart and prayers are a welcome addition. I have a pair of my mother’s gloves (green) and one of her hand mirrors that I may add next year. You would approve of both, I think. You are welcome anytime in my photographs as you always can imagine a story. Hope all is well with you. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jo Nell, I travel in my head, and imagine peole and places and what they are doing. I loved that your image was reflected in the mirror so I simply had to pop over and say prayers with you. XX Virginia

        Liked by 1 person

  6. A moving offering to loved ones, Jo Nell. There’s something sacred, mysterious and magical about this post. So many of us in western society have whitewashed (or eliminated) rituals for honouring and remembering those who’ve gone before. What you’ve done here is special. You’ve inspired me.

    Liked by 1 person

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