Asked by: Branden Winkels
events and attractions birth

What is the purpose of placing candles on the ofrenda?

Last Updated: 6th May, 2020

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The light of the candles also called ceras -waxes- symbolize Jesus Christ Reborn and faith. Flowers, specially Cempasuchitl, adorn the ofrenda. Flowers represent the fugacity of life. Salt and water are also essential; they are set to quench the thirst of the souls, tired from their long trip.

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Correspondingly, what is the purpose of placing copal on the ofrenda?

Copalli is a tree resin that is used to make this incense. This particular incense is burned on an ofrenda because it is believed to attract spirits. The ofrenda is literally used by many to commune with their deceased family, and Copal is integral to drawing the spirits home.

Beside above, what are typical offerings for Dia de los Muertos? The Day of the Dead is a time for the dead to return home and visit loved ones, feast on their favorite foods and listen to their favorite music. In the homes, family members honor their deceased with ofrendas or offerings which may consist of photographs, bread, other foods, flowers, toys and other symbolic offerings.

Also to know is, why are candles used in Dia de los Muertos?

Here are the ofrendas that you will typically see on a Dia de los Muertos altar: Candles - Candles are lit to welcome the spirits back to their altars. Marigolds - These yellow-orange flowers, also called cempasúchitl, symbolize death. Their strong fragrance also help lead the dead back to their altars.

Why do people make ofrendas?

Ofrendas are shrines built to remember and honor people who have died. They are a way to keep the memory of that person alive through the annual tradition of remembering what they loved to do, eat, drink and look like.

Related Question Answers

Evan Bear

Professional

What should an ofrenda contain?

Their preferred dishes are cooked for them and placed on the altar: mole, tamales, fruits, arroz rojo -red rice-, hot chocolate and dried fruit. Some times cigarettes or liquor if the dead relative enjoyed them when alive. And of course Pan de Muerto.

Moro Ouahi

Professional

What are the three levels of ofrenda?

Ofrendas are often divided among three tiers:
  • The top level features images of the lost loved one and/or photos of saints.
  • The second tier is filled with favorite food items. There's pan de muerto, pan dulce, candy, cereal, liquor and more.
  • The bottom tier is the most practical.

Imara Laburbide

Professional

What are the seven levels of an altar?

A Guide to the Seven-Level Altar
  • First, choose to whom you are going to dedicate your altar.
  • Now build the structure of the altar.
  • On the first level (the highest) place a picture of the saint or virgin that you believe in.
  • The second level is for the souls of purgatory.
  • On the third level, put a handful of salt for the children of purgatory.

Merlin Mollinedo

Explainer

What do the three steps of an ofrenda represent?

No matter how large the altars are, they must include representations of the elements of air, water, fire, and earth. An altar with two steps represents the earth and sky. With three steps, the altar depicts purgatory, earth, and heaven, or the Holy Trinity.

Tijania Quinlivan

Explainer

How long does an ofrenda stay up?

But in Mexico, an altar – or an ofrendais one of the main focal points of the holiday. The ofrenda must be in place by October 31, because at night, the deceased pop in for one night.

Viktar Dallmeyr

Explainer

What happens to the food on the ofrenda?

Food is, as with any celebration, an integral part of the Día de los Muertos celebration. But food as an ofrenda is offered for the aroma, it is not believed that the foods are used or consumed by the spirits. The foods are eaten or given away by the living later, after their essence has been consumed.

Biel Oortmeijer

Pundit

What is Cempazuchitl?

Cempazuchitl - a yellow marigold, the symbol of death, also known as cempasuchil or zempasuchitl. Copalli - a scented resin used to make incense. Día de los Muertos - Day of the Dead. Día Todos los Santos - All Saints' Day. Golletes - a doughnut shaped bread, glazed with pink-colored sugar and placed on the altar.

Cibran Rotondi

Pundit

What is the flower of the dead?

Marigolds guide the spirits to their altars using their vibrant colors and pungent scent. The marigold most commonly used in Dia de los Muertos celebrations is the Targetes erecta, Mexican marigold or Aztec marigold, otherwise known as cempasuchitl or flower of the dead.

Narine Gorbunov

Pundit

What foods are made for Day of the Dead?

In Mexico traditional Día de los Muertos foods include pan de muerto and sugar skulls which are also used as ofrendas for the altars and tamales, champurrado (thick hot chocolate), moles, etc.

Rolly Pfaffenbach

Pundit

What is papel picado used for?

Papel picado is the name given to the tissue paper flags chiseled with a variety of patterns and used to decorate buildings, Day of the Dead altars and streets during secular and religious celebrations in Mexico.

Marsel Rapson

Pundit

What does papel picado symbolize?

Papel picado are 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. Without being mandatory, these elements make the ofrenda even more personal.

Joffre Scheuchengraber

Teacher

What represents the continuance of life?

Altars are typically decorated with candles, incense, photos of the deceased, sugar skulls, fresh fruit, and pan de muerto (bread of the dead), salt, which represents the continuance of life, and marigolds.

Najiha Serres

Teacher

Why do sugar skulls have tears?

The holiday originated from Aztec traditions. The Aztecs thought tears would only make their loved ones' journeys harder, and saw death as a continuation of life they should celebrate and embrace. One popular tradition is the production of calaveras, or sugar skulls.

Stalin Holzmanns

Teacher

What do the skeletons represent in Day of Dead?

The whimsical skeletons and skulls for Day of the Dead are a playful symbol of life after death, many times representing those who have died engaging in their favorite activities. This “La Catrina” is an iconic symbol of Día de los Muertos, and you will see her image everywhere (not only during Day of the Dead!).

Nahomi Palazuelo

Teacher

What do candles represent?

Candle. The candle symbolizes light in the darkness of life especially individual life, illlumination; it is the symbol of holy illumination of the spirit of truth. Lit in times of death, they signify the light in the next world, and they represent Christ as the light.

Jinying Lutkehermolle

Reviewer

What countries celebrate Day of the Dead?

Here's a look at how ten different countries celebrate Day of the Dead.
  • Día de los Muertos, Mexico. In Mexico, Day of the Dead falls on 2 November.
  • Boon Para Wate, Thailand.
  • Chingming, China.
  • Halloween, United States.
  • Mahalaya Amavasya, India.
  • Día dos Finados, Brazil.
  • Obon, Japan.
  • Samhain, Ireland.

Angelina Etxabe

Reviewer

How are Halloween and Dia de los Muertos similar?

No, Día de los Muertos isn't 'Mexican Halloween' While Halloween and Day of the Dead do share common roots, they are totally different holidays. One major distinction is that Halloween is only one night, whereas the Day of the Dead is actually a three-day event that is just getting starting on Oct. 31.

Csilla Unlu

Reviewer

What does La Catrina wear?

"Catrina has come to symbolize not only El Día de los Muertos and the Mexican willingness to laugh at death itself, but originally catrina was an elegant or well-dressed woman, so it refers to rich people," de la Torre said. "Death brings this neutralizing force; everyone is equal in the end.

Hiromi Cirne

Supporter

How do you celebrate the Day of the Dead?

Altars are usually decorated with flowers, candles, pan de muerto, ceramic skulls, and most importantly pictures of loved ones.
  1. Food placed on the altar consists of the loved ones favorite dishes and treats.
  2. Drinks should be placed in the altar to quench the thirst of the dead after their long journey back home.