La Ofrenda, An Incomparable Beauty
Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) is almost here! And what's a Día de los Muertos without an ofrenda? Ofrendas are essential and one of the most memorable part of Mexico's most celebrated holiday, Day of the Dead, due to the meaning behind the overall creation of one and their incomparable beauty. Ofrendas, in their own, are an art form.
Ofrenda, altares or altars are all the same on Día de Muertos: A set of items that tie into the person, usually a family member, that it is dedicated to celebrating their life and welcoming them on this wonderful holiday. These items can be some that the deceased held dear to them, items that often just showcase characteristics and traits of the person and then offerings, which is usually traditional favorite Mexican cuisine like tamales, mole, mandarinas, and even pan de muerto, all to welcome the loved ones in a grand manner as well as allow them to come back and have a taste of some of their favorites again. All of these items are meant to represent the honored person and who they were as well as welcome them, as we believe that they come visit us on this special day.
Because there can be many items involved, ofrendas usually have several levels, with the first one usually holding images of Saints and the cross. Candles as well as an array of bright colors can be found in ofrendas, with candles representing each deceased relative and colorful items, such as flower, representing the beauty of life.
A notable flower always used in ofrendas are Marigolds, or the cempasuchil. Marigolds are known for using their color and scent to guide the spirits to their alters. Their strong perfume attracts the spirits and their bright color are simply hard to miss, easily guiding each loved one to their altares.
Other notable items such as salt, water, papel picado, incense, and even photos of the person being celebrated can be found on an ofrenda, with each holding their own special meaning. Salt and water, for example, are meant to purify and quench the thirst of the souls visiting. Delicately decorated Papel picado is also more than just decoration, signifying wind and the fragility of life in such a special occasion.
Overall, Ofrendas are truly a beautiful memorial for our loved ones, celebrating their overall life. As one can imagine, these altars are taken seriously among the family and locals; in fact, in many towns there are even contests held, selecting some of the most beautiful altars.