Altars for Day of the Dead in Mexico

by Silvia on November 2, 2012 · 4 comments

in Celebraciones / Celebrations

Para español da click aquí.

Cempazuchitl_fountain_mamalatinatips

Today is Day of the Dead and in cities all over Mexico families are going to cemeteries to visit their loved-ones who have passed. In Mexico, many believe that on this day our dearly departed return from the world of the dead to be with, and comfort, our families. That’s why families place Altars for the Dead, a fundamental element of the celebration, to make offerings both physical, like food and water, and spiritual, like rosaries, candles, and religious images, for our loved-ones to use.

altar_de_muertos_guitar

Altars for the Dead have been built since prehispanic times and there are various types, some purely prehispanic with symbols depending on one’s ancestry, for example, from the Aztec, Totonacas, Mixtec, just to name a very few…

altar_Prehispanicpurple_mamalatinatips

…or the altars are a combination of traditions with both symbols from Prehispanic Indigenous cultures and from Christian culture. They often include multiple levels, the most common are two levels (representing Heaven and Earth), three levels (representing Heaven, Purgatory, and Earth) or seven levels (symbolizing the seven steps necessary to reach heaven), this last is considered by many to be the ultimate, complete altar and includes the following steps, one for each level:

Altar_7_levels_mamalatinatips

The first step : An image of a Saint to whom the departed loved-one was particularly devoted

The second step: An image of souls in purgatory.

The third step: Salt (for purification)

The fourth step: Bread

The fifth step: Foods and favorite fruits of the loved-one

The sixth step: Photographs of the loved-one

The seventh step: A cross, or rosary, made from either seeds or fruit like tecojote and lime

rosary_altardemuertos_mamalatinatips

Among the traditional offerings can also be found water, candles, incense, floral arches, papel picado (rectangular bits  of paper with different designs cut into them), flowers (especially the traditional orange or yellow cempazuchitl), skeletons, favorite drinks (tequila, beer, rompope and wine are common), and favorite objects of the departed, just to name a few.

altar_de_muertos_four_levels_mamalatinatips

Having said this, keep in mind that all types of altars are found as you shall see:

altar_de_muertos_dress_mamalatinatips

altar_de_muertos_cruz_mamalatinatips

altar_de_muertos_virgen_guadalupe_mamalatinatips

altar_oscuro_mamalatinatips

altar_prehispanic_mamalatinatips

papel_picado_mamalatinatips

catrina_cempazuchitlflower_mamalatinatips

altardemuertos_child2_mamalatinatips

altar_de_muertos_Iglesia_mamalatinatips

altardemuertos_behindflowers_mamalatinatips

More Pictures on mamalatinatips Flickr Account.

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