So you want to make a Dia de los Muertos altar, do you? They aren’t just for fun, they are actually designed to honor your dead ancestors, but if you’re going to use them as Halloween decorations, you’re doing it wrong.

Dia de los Muertos began as a pre-Columbian ritual in Mexico that honored ancestors. The Church doesn’t observe Dia de los Muertos. Their observance this time of year is All Souls Day.

Altars for Dia de los Muertos are a celebration of the life of the deceased. Flowers, food, candles, personal beloved items, even liquor and cigarettes for the deceased to see are placed on altars at their gravesite. The deceased are not being worshipped, they are just being remembered by putting their favorite things on their graves.

Some of the things you can included on a Dia de los Muertos altar include:
1. Photos of the deceased – Happy times among the living are represented by photos of them with their family and friends.
2. Flowers, usually marigolds - Marigolds are traditional on Dia de los Muertos altars because their bright orange and yellow colors symbolize the sun.
3. Favorite foods of the deceased - The food and drink help the deceased refresh themselves after their long journey from the afterlife to our realm.
4. Candles - Candles on the altar are there to help light the way back from the afterlife for the deceased.
5. Sugar skulls – Calaveras became a tradition because the indigenous people of Mexico who were converted to Catholicsm didn't have money for fancy decorations, but they did have sugar. The bright colors and designs are just another way to celebrate the deceased.

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