A lot of Mexican families set up an alter to their dead relatives. On it you will see flowers... particularly Marigolds (which someone told me is suppose to help bring back the dead), different typical foods (the foods their deceased family members enjoy), water, alcohol, candles, skulls, and some pictures of the family members that are expected to come back.
All of this --- of course--- is accompanied by a big party.
At home October 31- Halloween is a secular holiday with lots of parties, cute costumes and too much candy. But here these few days are very tied to the Mexican culture with many idols being worshiped (i think this happens more in some parts of Mexico more than others)... they even get a day off!
I read on Jims blog from a few years ago that the Catholic church came out with this statement... "those who celebrate Halloween are worshiping a culture of death that is the product of a mix of pagan customs. The worst thing is that this celebration has been identified with neo-pagans, Satanism and occult worship."
Anyways, I didn't totally get all of the ideas around this, so this year I decided to ask 4-5 families from our church what they thought. A lot of them come from families who do this yearly, and a lot of their extended families still do!
They just told me they believed it was very sad. They seperate themselves with even halloween (which is a little more like trick or treating and candy etc) because they don't want to be a part of even that. They know that their dead family members aren't coming back to eat the food.
I asked one... "if the food is still on the alter, then how do you know it has been eaten". She said that people have tried the food that has been sitting on the alter after the day and it has no taste and the glasses of water have less water. She told me ... its science... leave a glass of water out for a few days, and there will be less water in it!
As Tiffany and I walked around the neighborhood with our doggies today you could see the offering tables in peoples houses, and all the people selling incense, candles, flowers and pan de muertos (bread of the dead). We also decided to visit the cemetery... we knew what happened in the houses. It was interesting.
Here is another blog about this day...
And here are a few pics!
The flowers on sale for the graves and offerings.
Incense and accessories for the tables...
A grave site...
and offering (for when they come back) in this site... juice, fruit, bread and coke
little dead girl figurines...
bread of the dead...
an offering (i didn't take this picture, but its likethe ones i have seen)