This year, St. Bart’s Youth will create a Dia de los Muertos altar where church members may place a photo or special item to remember their departed loved one. In years past, St. Bart’s members have placed photos of loved ones in the sanctuary prior to our All Saints' Day service on November 1.
What is Dia de los Muertos? The Day of the Dead is a holiday celebrated on November 1, as we celebrate All Saints' Day. Although marked throughout Latin America, Dia de los Muertos is most strongly associated with Mexico, where the tradition originated.
Ofrendas are an essential part of the Day of the Dead celebrations. The word ofrenda means offering in Spanish.
Dia de los Muertos honors the dead with festivals and lively celebrations, a typically Latin American custom that combines indigenous Aztec ritual with Catholicism, brought to the region by Spanish conquistadores. Dia de los Muertos is celebrated on All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, minor holidays in the Catholic calendar.
Making an ofrenda can be a wonderful family activity, as well. It provides an environment for children to ask questions about death and dying, and also gives them an opportunity to learn more about family members who they may not have known or known well.
Assured that the dead would be insulted by mourning or sadness, Dia de los Muertos celebrates the lives of the deceased with food, drink, parties, and activities the dead enjoyed in life. Dia de los Muertos recognizes death as a natural part of the human experience, a continuum with birth, childhood, and growing up to become a contributing member of the community. On Dia de los Muertos, the dead are also a part of the community, awakened from their eternal sleep to share celebrations with their loved ones.
Traditionally, ofrendas include:
- Framed photograph of the person being honored
- Small, personal item that belonged to the deceased: a watch, piece of jewelry, hat, belt, handkerchief, etc.
- Favorite foods or beverages: a plate of food, candy bar, even bottles of beer or wine.
Ofrendas for St. Bart’s Dia de los Muertos altar could be a framed photo of your loved one, which we have done in years past, or an item that belonged to the deceased and holds special meeting.
~ Alex Howard, Children’s Minister