An offering or an ofrenda is the essential part of the Day of the Dead celebrations. The ofrenda is set up in honor of the memory of our ancestors and first began with the Aztecs some 3000 years ago. Hayes Lavis, cultural arts curator for the Smithsonian’sNational Museum of the American Indian, says that mourning was not allowed because it was believed the tears would make the spirit’s path treacherous and slippery. “This day is a joyous occasion; it’s a time to gather with everyone in your family, those alive and those dead,” he says.
Last October, my daughter and I traveled to Toluca, Mexico, and participated in the local Dia de los Muertos festival. The experience was life changing and life affirming. If you haven’t gone before, please add this experience to your bucket list. There are several cities that have huge festivals in Mexico and Toluca’s is rated one of the top experiences especially for their offerings of sugar skulls, other candies and dried fruits.
This year, both of us were motivated to craft our own ofrenda in our homes in north Texas. We are thrilled to display the items we collected while in Mexico especially the papel picado (cut paper), magnolia flowers, candles, Katrina figures, sugar skulls and much more including photographs of our relatives that have passed before us. Later this month, we will light incense and remember our trip to Mexico with fond memories and new traditions here in Texas.
Here is a recipe for Day of the Dead Bread that you will want to make all year round Pan de Muerto. Ofrendas in Mexico are truly works of art. What would you put on your ofrenda?