How to make your own altar
The Day of the Dead
The Dead of the Dead altar is a prehispanic tradition that has lasted throughout the years. It has become an integrated part of the Catholic religion in Mexico. Every year it becomes a bigger and bigger event, with school classes, government employees and artists throughout Mexico competing for the most creative and interesting altar. Halloween is not a tradition in Mexico, and every year the Catholic church fights against the celebration and promotes the Day of the Dead Altars. November 1 (for dead little children - santos inocentes) and November 2 for adults. What you need
The most important thing to put on your Day of the Dead altar is a photograph of the person to whom you are dedicating the altar.
The three tier altar is covered in "papel picado" - which is bright colored tissue paper with cut out designs. The paper can be either handmade or purchased. Three important colors are purple (for pain) white (for hope) and pink (for the celebration). You can improvise with colored tissue wrapping paper with color stamp designs like butterflies or your own paper cut designs (a la paper snowflake).
Candles are also placed all over the altar. Purple candles again are used to signify pain. On the top level of the altar, four candles need to be placed - signifying the four cardinal points. The light of the candle will illuminate the way for the dead upon their return.
Three candy skulls are placed on the second level. These represent the Holy Trinity. On the center of the third level a large skull is placed - this represents the Giver of Life. You can substitute Candy Skulls with plastic or clay skeleton figurines
All bad spirits must be whisked away and leave a clear path for the dead soul by burning in a bracero, a small burner used to cook outside. Or you can use a sahumerio to burn copal or incense. A small cross of ash is made so that the ghost will expel all...