Last week, I received a super care package from my great-aunt in Mexico! She is the sweetest tia who has known that I have been wanting to set up a proper Day of the Dead ofrenda for years!
My maternal grandmother passed away when my mom was a teenager. As a little girl, I would listen to stories of her on special days throughout the year. My aunts, uncles and mother would dedicate a mass for her on Mother’s Day and on her birthday and they honored, remembered, and spoke of her on those days. On el Día de los Muertos, a day that honors loved ones who have left this world, my mother would build an altar, an ofrenda, of fruit, pan de muerto (sweet bread), bright candles, a glass of water… and would place a framed picture of her in the middle of it all. The mood was always a little somber on every November 1st and 2nd and I remember lying in my room adjacent to the kitchen and watching the candles flicker in the night, wishing I would have met my beautiful grandmother.
Remembering loved ones who have died is always heartbreaking, but there is something so festive about this tradition many Mexicans practice. The preparation takes weeks! Sugar skulls to create, bread to bake, tamales or other favorite foods to prepare…! My aunt sent me little sugar coffins and tiny Catrinas (with paper handbags and all!!), She also sent the pan de muerto you see here and jamoncillo candy (a pumpkin seed, milk and sugar bar). I placed it all on the altar along with my Frida Kahlo Catrina from Puerto Vallarta, apples, tamales and candles.
We have been reading Day of the Dead for weeks and the boys were excited to see the contents of the special box from my Tia Lucina. They will hear stories of a special woman too but for them, it will be all about Aunt Liz. Gracias Tia Lucina in Cuernavaca and Mami in Chicago for instilling such beautiful Mexican traditions I can pass along to my Jersey boys. Las quiero.
Images: CR Photography