Day of the Dead originated several thousand years ago with the Aztec, Toltec, and other Nahua people, who considered mourning the dead disrespectful. For these pre-Hispanic cultures, death was a natural phase in life’s long continuum.
One of the most beautiful aspects of this celebration is that the dead are still members of our communities/families and we can keep them alive through memory and stories by honoring and remembering these people through an altar. Think of this site as a sort of Memorial for those we want to honor and remember.
The centerpiece of this celebration is an altar, or ofrenda, built in private homes and cemeteries. These aren’t altars for worshiping but for remembering. Similar to Memorials they are filled with items such as flowers, candles, photographs and other personal items that remind us of the individual.
On altars there are “offerings” meant to welcome spirits back to the realm of the living to add comfort to the deceased. In traditional Day of the Dead altars you will find water to quench thirst after the long journey, food, family photos, and a candle for each dead relative. Marigolds are the main flowers used to decorate the altar. The smoke from copal incense, made from tree resin, transmits praise and prayers and purifies the area around the altar.