November first begins the Dia de los Muertos (also known as "Day of the Dead") festivities with All Saints Day in which the deceased children are honored and remembered. November second All Souls Day is for the remembrance of the adult dead. Dia de los Muertos combines these days to celebrate the the deceased and enjoy their memories. Day of the Dead is not at all scary, spooky or somber. The spirits of the deceased are thought to pay a visit to their families during Dia de los Muertos and the families prepare an altar for them.
Before Dia de los Muertos, an area of the house is cleaned up and the furniture removed to make room for the altar. The altar consists at a minimum of a covered table, and usually a few crates or boxes are added to it and covered to create open shelves and other raised display areas. The coverings used can vary from plain to vibrantly colored oil cloth. The altar is then set up with the appropriate ofrendas (offerings) for Dia de los Muertos.
The offerings placed on the altar for Dia de los Muertos usually consist of a wash bowl, basin, razors, soap and other items the traveling spirit can use to clean-up after the journey. Pictures of the deceased are also placed on the altar as well as personal belongings for each person and any other offerings the deceased may enjoy such as a pack of cigarettes or a bottle of tequila. Candles are used to help light the way for the spirits as well as other decorative items such as papel picado (tissue paper cut-outs) wreaths, crosses and flowers. Certain Dia de los Muertos dishes are also placed on the altar to help feed and nourish the traveling souls. Some of these offerings also double as the four main elements of nature — earth, wind, water, and fire. These are represented by movable or light-weight items such as tissue paper cut-outs (wind,) a bowl of water, candles (fire) and food (crops, earth.)
"Day of the Dead" Recipes
* Sugar Skulls...