Day of the Dead Altars

Day of the Dead altar

Gabriel Perez / Getty Images 

One of the traditions around Day of the Dead in Mexico involves making an altar or offering for the spirits who will return on this occasion. This photo gallery contains photos of a variety of Mexican Day of the the Dead altars.

01 of 11

Altar with Pan de Muerto

Day of the Dead Altar with Pan de Muerto
Suzanne Barbezat

This altar has special pan de muertos (Day of the Dead bread) in a vaguely human shape in different sizes, and colorful cempasuchitl flowers.

This altar was in a display of Day of the Dead altars that took place in the Oaxaca City Zocalo.

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02 of 11

Cuicatlan Altar

Suzanne Barbezat

This altar was made by representatives of Cuicatlan, in the Cañada region of Oaxaca. The altar is dedicated to Doña Beatriz, apparently a curandera (healer) from the community.

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03 of 11

Altar with Petate

Altar with Petate
Suzanne Barbezat

This altar is one of my favorites. A petate (straw mat) is hanging on the wall behind it, with photos attached. Nanche fruit are decoratively strung along the front of the table. The baskets and clay pots add a nice touch too.

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04 of 11

Flowers Altar

Day of the Dead altar with flowers
Suzanne Barbezat

This altar has lots of flowers in it - the orange cempasuchitl and the purplish red cockscomb make a nice combination.

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05 of 11

Handicraft Shop Altar

Day of the Dead altar in a handicraft shop
Suzanne Barbezat

Day of the Dead altars are set up in businesses as well as family homes. This is an altar that was on display in a handicraft shop.

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06 of 11

Hanging Skulls Altar

Suzanne Barbezat

Each of the skulls hanging from the arch has a name written on it. The flower petals on the floor are placed to make the shape of la Virgen de la Soledad, our Lady of Solitude.

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Three-tiered Altar

Day of the Dead altar with three tiers
Suzanne Barbezat

This altar has three tiers. Papel picado and bandanas were used as decoration.

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In front of the altar

Incense burner in front of the altar
Suzanne Barbezat

This is a view of the floor in front of the previous altar. Note the pieces of sugar cane placed in the form of a star, and the burner for copal incense.

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09 of 11

Altar with Chickens

Day of the Dead altar with chickens
Suzanne Barbezat

Look carefully at the arch. There are bananas hanging there and... chickens.

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10 of 11

Frida Kahlo Tapestry Altar

Suzanne Barbezat

This altar was sponsored by the organization Mujeres Unidas A.C. from the village of Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca. Frida Kahlo is pictured in the tapestry hanging at the back of the altar.

My favorite thing about this altar is the miniature band procession on the bottom left.

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11 of 11

An elegant altar

Benito Hernández

This altar looks very polished. The dark purple tablecloth contrasts nicely with the orange cempasuchitl flowers.