Today we are building our ofrenda (Mexican altar) for Dia De Los Muertos. Day of the Dead is celebrated today and tomorrow and is one of my favorite holidays. We build an altar using our table covered with a bold floral tablecloth, window sills (great for candles), and branches we found outside covered with lights and mexican ornaments. You can use boxes with tablecloths to create depth and dimension. Marigolds are used traditionally, as the smell is said to attract the dead and show them the way.
Once you get your altar up, you can add candles to help light the way for the dead. Then you place foods and items your loved ones enjoyed before they passed on. I like lots of color and candlelight. Place photographs of loved ones on the altar and anything else you think is appropriate.
We do a small vegan Mexican inspired feast consisting of black beans, guacamole, salsa, and chips. I have ambitions to veganize Bread of the Dead (Pan de Muerto) but haven't carried them through yet, same thing for the sugar skulls. This year the plan is to add Mexican wedding cookies to our feast where there will be fruit for my grandmother and oreos for my dad.
I am not a religious person, but I love Dia de los Muertos. I love the idea of celebrating those that we miss and embracing life in this moment. My son gets a big kick out of hearing stories about his relatives he never got to meet and it just makes me feel better about life to have this holiday to look forward to every year.
image courtesy of: http://www.mexicansugarskull.com/