Posts Tagged ‘aztecs’

Day of the Dead Altars (Ofrendas)

Day of the Dead Altars (Ofrendas)

altarsDay of the Dead Altars


Day of the Dead is celebrated from October 31st to November 2nd. The celebrations include festivals, visit to grave sites, and preparing the altars or Ofrendas for lost loved ones. Ofrendas can be set up near graves or where the loved one actually died. They are also set up in the home where people believe the spirits will visit.

In Morelos, Mexico the altar is set up in a bedroom with chairs or a bed for the dead to rest on. The living then sleep on the front porch. This is not done out of fear but they want to make the dead comfortable. The altars filled with flowers, candles and much more. Below is a list of the items you would find.

Day of the Dead Altars

Candles… for each dead family member. Lighting the way the for the spirits.

GetFileAttachment-5 copyBeeswax Candles

Skulls made of wood or sugar…..sometimes marked with the names of the dead family member.

tree of life


Soap and Small towels….for the dead to wash


Water Jug…for drinking


Salt….a symbol of life




Bread…Pan de Muertos (Bread of the Dead) is a sweet egg bread and is flavored with cinnamon and anise seed (tastes like black licorice). The bread is then glazed with honey or sprinkled with red or pink sugar. The bread will sometimes be shaped like people or animals.

pan de muertoPan de Muerto

Flowers…Marigolds (going back to the Aztecs) are used because they are the symbol of the harvest and they are also know as the flower of the dead. Their bright color and strong smell reminded the Aztecs of the sun. You can see the petals scattered from the graves to the home, like a path for the spirits to follow. These bright flowers are colorful enough for the spirits to see after living in so much darkness.


Marigold-Marigolds….flowers of the Dead



Pictures of the loved ones that have past


Small toys or miscellaneous items the loved ones enjoyed


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Cacao Mexican Chocolate

Cacao Mexican Chocolate


 For 5000 years the Cacao bean has been in Mexico including cultures along the Yucatan like the Mayans.

A Spanish soldier who was part of the conquest of Mexico by Cortes tells that when Montezuma II, emperor of the Aztecs, dined, he took no other beverage than chocolate flavored with vanilla or other spices. His chocolate was whipped into a froth that dissolved in the mouth. No fewer than 60 portions each day reportedly may have been consumed by Moctezuma II.



Chocolate was introduced to Europe by the Spanish and it became a popular beverage by the mid-17th century. They didn’t use sugar in the recipe until the Europeans added it hundreds of years later.

Nowadays, Mexicans enjoy their hot cocoa as a nightly treat with sweetbreads (pan dulce) and during the Day of the Dead celebrations you can find all manner of Mexican chocolate in the shape of skeletons and skulls.






Coast Hwy Traders

530 S Coast Hwy 101

Encinitas Ca


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