Synthesized between Mesoamerican beliefs and European influences Dia de los Muertos gives people the opportunity to remember loved ones with traditional offerings.
Ofrendas are set up to remember and honor the memory of ancestors. Often ofrendas include Catholic religious symbols with Mesoamerican influences. Influences like the ritual of including a person’s tools alongside the body before cremation followed by 80 days of placing food and water at the family or temple altar. The Nahua people welcomed their deceased by shouting their names - leading them to elaborate offerings of food, water, tobacco, new clothes and tools. Those who do not build altars, do, for the most part, follow the Spanish/European customs of taking flowers and cleaning graves, like Memorial Day in the United States.
Día de los Muertos traditions carry a uniquely Mexican stamp, but in essence they are a fusion of pre-Columbian rituals and European beliefs brought by the Spanish to Mesoamerica. At the core Día de los Muertos traditions and rituals retain the primary mission of honoring, remembering and celebrating the life of all those who have come before us; as well as giving hope to our own inevitable mortality.
The National Hispanic Cultural Center's float for the Dia de los Muertos y Marigold Parade on Nov. 6, 2016, was created by a team of staff, volunteers and local artists who took the prize for best in show.