Day of the Dead  Altar

Mama Maggie's Kitchen

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a festival of love, respect, and a day of remembrance.  It is a true jewel in Mexico’s cultural crown, and a special way of keeping the spark of our departed loved ones alive. Kickstarting on October 31st, right up until November 2nd.

What is Día de los Muertos?

At the core of the celebrations is the creation of an elaborate Day of the Dead altar, or ‘ofrenda.’  These altars are sacred spaces, exploding with bright colors and filled with symbolic offerings, designed to welcome the spirits back home.er 31st, right up until November 2nd.

Elements of the Altar

It’s common to see the items arranged in the form of a cross, another nod to the blend of indigenous beliefs and Catholicism. This pattern is said to represent the cardinal directions—north, south, east, and west—with each direction having a different significance and corresponding element: wind, water, earth, and fire.

The Cross

Although Day of the Dead holiday has evolved over many years, there are some customs that never die. Like salt! In many Mexican traditions, salt is considered a purifier that helps cleanse the spirits and ward off evil.


The flickering candlelight symbolizes hope and faith and is believed to light the path for the souls, guiding them from the spirit world back to the land of the living. The flickering flames add warmth to the bright, vibrant colors of the Day of the Dead altar.


These colors, especially orange and purple, have particular significance. Orange is said to represent the sun and vitality, while purple stands for grief and suffering. This blend of joy and sorrow, of life and death, is at the heart of this holiday.


One of the most common elements you’ll find on every Día de los Muertos altar is Pan de Muerto, or Bread of the Dead. This sweet round loaf symbolizes the sweetness of life and adds an authentic touch to the celebrations.

Traditional Foods

She’s a symbol deeply rooted in Aztec traditions, where ancestors were seen not as lost, but merely journeying into the next life. During Día de los Muertos, La Catrina, in her signature long dress, stylish shoes, and feathered hat, takes center stage.

La Catrina

To further enhance your Day of the Dead altar, you could include the delicate ‘cempasuchil’ or marigold flowers.   These flowers, with their vibrant orange color and strong scent, are believed to guide the spirits on their journey from the spirit realm.


Despite the sadness that comes with loss, Día de los Muertos is a celebration of life. Check out my blog for more information and, of course, authentic recipes for celebrating this special day.                    👇👇👇👇👇

Keep the celebration

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