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Decorations and Treats (cont.)

In Oaxaca, there is a whole street lined with flower vendors. The traditional flower of dia de los muertos is an orange marigold. The flower can be seen walking down the street in doorways, covering ofrendas, and at churches.

The ofrenda is a table or area decorated to hold the offerings for the spirits. Especially in Oaxaca, it is considered a great craft, and there is an ofrenda competition in the cemetery.

Once the spirits return, they will be hungry and thirsty after their long journey. Special foods will be prepared and set out on the ofrenda. Tamales, pumkin cooked with brown sugar, cane sugar and tejocotes, pan de muerto, chocolate, nuts and fresh fruit, as well as local specialties like mole. The favorite foods and drink of the honored deceased will be placed out, as well their framed photos.

The ofrendas are decorated with special candles, cloth, paper and flowers. The ofrenda can be laid out on the floor or set up in tiers like the one at right. Some are fully lit up, others are in a dark corner of the house or shop. They are always near a door, where the food, drinks and treats can be of easy access to the deceased when they first arrive.

An ofrenda at the cemetery

Another decorative way to honor the dead is particular to Oaxaca. Tapete de Arena, sand sculptures, are colored "carpets" made from dyed sawdust, sand, seeds, and flower petals. Like the ofrenda, making the tapete is almost an art form and there is a competition for the best tapete de Arena in the city. The sand sculptures are beautiful and very delicate; they and the ofrendas make going from shop to shop along the streets of Oaxaca a treat during dias de los muertos.

An ofrenda in a local shop with a closeup of its beautiful tapete de arena

A calavera tapete
Tapete at a village cemetery

My favorite tapete de arena in Oaxaca

All along the street leading from the cathedral to the beautiful Santo Domingo Church are candles with paper tombstone-like inscriptions decorated with flowers.

The Oaxacans take the Day of the Dead very seriously, but they do it with mirth and good cheer.

That's about all the photos for the decorations that I have. Click on "Next" to see photos and short video clips of the parades in Oaxaca City.


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