Blog Archive

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day of the Dead: Setting Up the Altar

Day of the Dead:  Setting Up the Altar
by Victoria Challancin

I am surrounded by Death, and it is smiling.

I am surrounded by Death, and it is smiling.  That's what came to me today as I strolled through the Día de los Muertos market that appears near the end of October every year in San Miguel.  It is the "go-to" place for all your altar needs, and it is bursting with life overlaid with a tinge of Death.  But not sadness.  No, not sadness.

Everything You Need for the Altar
Every home in Mexico, almost without exception, sets up an altar to honor those who have passed.  Some are simple--a photo, a flower, a saint or a cross; some are incredibly complex.  Here are just a few photos I took at this year's market, where you can buy altar decorations.

For past posts on Day of the Dead, click here for some history, a brief post on The Poetry of Death, and photos of altars from the humble to the extravagant  and here for more market photos of alfeñiques, or the sugar skulls and sugar figures from last year's market.

 Candles and papel chino or  papel picado

"The Mexican is familiar with death, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, and celebrates it.  It is one of his favorite playthings and his most steadfast love."            Octavio Paz, Mexican poet

Skulls and Figures

 Sugar skulls

 More skulls, some with names

 The figures

 And yes, with rollers

The Animals
The sheep

The chickens

The Food

 Guacamole in molcajete

 Chicken mole with Mexican Rice and peas in a cazuela

Atole with tamales

 Beans and Rice...Tacos with lettuce and cream on top


 Cakes to mark each and every celebration of Life

 More cakes

Baskets of Fruit

 Tiny Shoes

Miniature bottles of your drink of choice...

Parting Thought:

"If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance."          George Bernard Shaw

©Victoria Challancin.   All Rights Reserved.

Please do not use images or text without permission.  Thanks!


Joan Nova said...

Everything is always so colorful in Mexico, even death. I always came from a trip to MX with one of those little figurines. Loved the one with the babushka and rollers.

janet @ the taste space said...

What a beautifully colorful celebration of the dead. I trust you didn't make all this? It is incredible! :-)

Victoria of Flavors of the Sun said...

No, no...this is all things for sale in the market. But I wish I had the talent to make some of them as they are amazing!

Eha said...

What a learning experience, Vicki - thank you for sharing and I hope I may share also . . .

Not Quite Nigella said...

This was an absolutely fascinating photographic journey Victoria! I knew that Day of the Dead was huge, mainly from you, but seeing all of those amazing treats made me wish I was there with you! Another reason to visit you! :D

Victoria of Flavors of the Sun said...

Indeed. It is a fervent hope of mine that my blogging friends will make it here one day. San Miguel is the 8th most wonderful city in the world, as we know!!! ; )

Hotly Spiced said...

This is a very foreign festival to me as nothing quite like it is celebrated too. It seems to foreign. Thanks for such a comprehensive tour. I love the miniature shoes and and bottles xx said...