Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
library banner

Día de los Muertos

WeatherTech Innovation Lab

What is needed for an alter/ofrenda?

  • Marigolds- This is the flower that is symbolic of death for the Aztec culture in pre-Colombian Mexico. This is the ‘flor de muerto’ and it is used to decorate ofrendas.
  • Water- placed in the ofrenda to quench the thirst of the sprits. It also symbolizes the element of life.
  • Fruit- Besides the pan de muerto, altares usually contain typical food items such as rice, mole, pumpkin, as well as the fruits of the season, especially oranges and apples for their natural perfume.
  • Sugar Skulls- decorated with sugar flowers, designs and have, sometimes, the name of the loved one written on the forehead. They represent death and the sweetness of life.
  • Incense- Copalli incense comes from the copal tree. It symbolizes the transformation from the physical, the tree, to the supernatural, the perfumed smoke. The rising smoke takes the prayers to the heavens and the gods.
  • Candles- guide and light the path of the spirits to their ofrendas. Candles can come in different sizes depending in the altar is for a child or an adult.
  • Pan de Muetro- made to place on the ofrendas and graves. It’s sweet bread flavored with anis and orange peel. It’s baked in a round shape like a skull. It symbolizes the main state of human life.
  • Photos- A framed photo of the deceased to whom the altar is dedicated, usually positioned in a prime spot on the altar.
  • Papel Picado (Tissue Paper Cut Outs)- tissue paper banners with cut out designs of animated skeleton figures. They decorate ofrendas, homes, streets and buildings. They symbolize the wind, one of the elements of life.