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Celebrating Día de los Muertos!

Assistant to the Bishop Rev. Hazel Salazar-Davidson is leading our Synod in celebrating Día de los Muertos this November! To get things started, we'd like to share a bit of information on the different elements that you might find on an Ofrenda and their significance. We hope you take time to read and participate in this time of celebration and remembrance.

Ofrenda - Altars

Day of the Dead altars are built during Día de los Muertos to honor the lives of those who have passed. They are quite beautiful creations, constructed with love and care to honor those who have passed away. Creating these altars is one of the most important traditions during Day of the Dead in Mexico and in Mexican-American communities around the globe. On top of the altar, offerings are laid out for the dead — known as Ofrenda in Spanish. These are items that the spirits will enjoy when they come back to earth to visit their living families and friends. Typically, you will find candles, marigolds, incense, salt, photos of the deceased, pan de muerto, sugar skulls, fresh fruit and other foods.

This Ofrenda is from a congregation in Pasadena, CA Rev. Hazel had the pleasure of visiting with a few years back.

Sugar Skulls

Years ago, folk living in Mexico explored unique ways to use the abundance of sugar the country produced. Local Friars taught them to use the excess sugar to create art to be use in their churches and at different religious celebrations! The tradition of sugar skulls has roots that date back to the 18th century and are often placed on the Ofrenda to honor the return of our loved ones spirits. The skulls are decorated with colorful icing, sparkles and sometimes have the names of passed loved ones written on the foreheads. Rev. Hazel often makes her sugar skulls the week before Día de los Muertos and is looking forward to sharing her best found recipe so you can make them in your home!

Face Painting

Día de los Muertos face painting hold deep roots and intersections with the Aztec and European symbolism and is a unique mixture of Catholic and Indigenous Mexican peoples religious beliefs. The most common design for Día de los Muertos is to paint the face to resemble a skull! In the Latin American culture, skulls are often viewed in a positive light. They represent the season of rebirth and the face painting of a skull provides folk with the opportunity to overcome their fear of the afterlife.

Pan de Muertos

Pan de Muerto is the traditional bread of the dead, enjoyed by all on Día de los Muertos. This sweet b

read is consumed in celebration as people toast to their loved ones who have passed away and rejoice in their memory! These sweet loaves are baked into different shapes and consumed by families here on earth, and left on Ofrendas for passed loved ones to enjoy.

Candles & Marigolds

You may notice that many Ofrendas are surrounded by candles and lights! These bright figures serve as a way to welcome the spirits back to their altars. Candles represent fire and are a light guiding loved ones back to visit the land of the living. Marigolds, Cempasúchitl in Spanish, are also often found on Ofrendas as their bright color and strong scent guide spirits to the altar.

Papel Picado Banners

Papel Picado is a tradition of hand-cutting paper that dates back to the 18th century with the

importing of paper to Mexico. Artisans specializing in hand cutting paper would provide churches with thousands of strings of paper decor, hung outside churches and streets to colorfully decorate a space. This tradition continues and papel picado can be found strung to an Ofrenda or hanging around a house to provide colorful, vibrant decor to welcome the spirits!

For more information about the Día de los Muertos symbols and items used to celebrate, or to order items, we recommend this website:

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