The tradition of celebrating the dead on the 1st and 2nd of November (All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day) originated in pre-Hispanic Mexico and was maintained in modified form during the Colonial period, eventually developing into the festivity we are familiar with today. It consists of setting up an offering that is generally divided into two sections: the floor and the altar.
The floor is completely covered with sawdust of a purple, pink, or orange color. Food of all kinds is arranged over the sawdust, always including chocolate or sugar skulls, as well as sugared fruit or pumpkin and fresh fruit such as pineapples, hawthorn berries, sugarcane, and jícama, or Mexican turnip. Prepared dishes include mole sauce with turkey, tamales, and a variety of Mexican foods, as well as beverages such as pulque and atole, made from the fermented sap of the maguey and from corn meal, respectively.
Other traditional elements of an offering are bread, water, salt, copal, incense, flowers, and candles.