What’s an ofrenda?

An ofrenda is a Spanish word for an offering made of objects people put on an altar during the celebration of the day of the dead in Mexico.

All ofrendas are unique

The ofrenda can be very simple or very elaborate and is made on purpose for a person who died but not forgotten. The whole purpose of the ofrenda is to welcome him or her back. You don’t believe they’ll come back? Well, when you see how great the altars are prepared, chances are you’ll start thinking this may actually be true.

Example of an ofrenda in Mexico
Example of an ofrenda in Mexico

The 3 different parts of an ofrenda

There are usually three parts in the altar, composing the basic structure out of which more variations are possible:

  1. heaven: the photo of the person that can be mixed within various saints, statuettes and cruxifixes
  2. purgatory: the person’s favourite food, sweet or savoury, alcohol for adults and toys for children
  3. earth: candles as well as a basin, mirror and soap that may be needed to freshen up upon arrival to the altar

Additional elements

Around and throughout the altar are placed decorated candied skulls and flowers. In the end, what counts is the overall result i.e. a mix of colours, scents, a sense of abundance and generosity.

Different elements found on the table near an ofrenda
Different elements found on the table near an ofrenda

Ofrendas can be anywhere

Ofrendas are usually found in people’s houses as well as in cemeteries and churches. You can’t miss them during the celebrations of the Dia de Muertos as their main characteristic is… to be highly visible!

Do you want to know more? Have a look at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ofrenda

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