Making your own altar for Dia de los Muertos

While many people are busy with Halloween festivities other cultures are busy with their own tradition that dates back thousands of years, one is called Dia de los Muertos also known as Day of the Dead.

Day of the Dead is on November 2nd and it is a time for people to remember and celebrate a loved one.

Frank Delgado, executive director and chief curator for Artes Americas Casa de la Cultura, said on Day of the Dead it is believed spirits' of the dead come back. He explained that families and friends typically make alters to honor those who passed.

"Creating an altar, it creates something that when the spirit comes back to visit on that day they see that they are being remembered," he said, "It makes them feel as though they are still a part of the family".

Delgado mentioned there is no wrong or right way to make an altar.

"As you are creating an alter you are putting little things on there that are specific to them, the things they like to do, the food they like to eat," he said.
Delgado explained creating an altar gives you time to reflect and really remember your loved one.

"The more intricate and customized the more it is you can let the spirits know you really did remember them," Delgado said. "What people find out is they get to talk about these little elements ... they talk about a story about the person. So it creates the opportunity to really bring their spirit back."

Here are some helpful tips for you to make an altar at home.
-Create a space for the alter, and cover the space with a cloth-- Delgado said that alters typically have three tiers for the past, present and the future.

-Place photos on the altar of the person or people you want to remember.
-Include items that belonged to that person.

-Add items that represent fire, wind, and earth. Delgado said people use candles for fire, a colorful paper that has been cut (papel picado) for wind, and fruit or vegetables for the earth.

-Bread is also an essential item, it's known as "bread of the dead".

-Marigolds flowers or flowers represent the pathway that leads them back to the alter you've created.

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