What You Need for Your Altar

Here are some of the important things that you might want to have in your altar in order to guide your visitors and help them have a safe return home.

Día Altar SistersCopal: The copal is used to drive away evil spirits so that the soul of your loved is able to come without any danger. The copal is what inspires prayer and praise. It is a fragrance of reverence. You can also use incense, something that the Spaniards introduced upon their arrival to Mexico.

Water: Water calms the thirst of the souls when they arrive and gives them strength on their journey back. In some cultures, water symbolizes the purity of the soul.

Candles: The flame from the candle symbolizes “the light,” faith, and hope. The flame guides the souls with its shimmering flame so that they can return home. It also lights their return home. In various indigenous communities, each candle represents one person. If you place four candles in the form of a cross, it represents the four cardinal directions, so that the soul can find his or her way home.

Salt: Salt purifies the body of the deceased so that his or her body will not decay and is therefore able to return the following year.

Food: The ancestors prepared beans, tortillas, sweet tamales and atole. Actually, what is prepared are the dishes that your loved one liked the most before they died.

Flowers: Flowers represents a time of celebration. They adorn and offer their scent to the altar. Because of it, they will be happy when they leave. Some of the flowers used on the altars are the marigold and the wallflower. Baby’s breath cannot be missing from your altar if you are welcoming children. They represent purity and tenderness.

The Photograph: The photograph is to remember your loved one.

Liquor: The liquor is to remember all the enjoyable times while alive.

The izcuitle Dog: For the children there is a dog called izcuitle. This dog will make them happy to come to the banquet. The izcuitle helps the souls cross the fast-flowing river Chiconauhuapan, which is the only way to get to Mictlan, the world where the souls go after death.

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