The Meaning Behind Six Objects on Día de los Muertos Altars

Light envelops the foyer inside Alfonso López Fértor’s home in Guadalajara, Mexico, filling the space with a warm, welcoming glow. Inside he has set up an elaborate altar (ofrenda) in preparation for Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a multi-day holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and parts of Latin America that honors loved ones who have died. While many people might view death as a time filled with sadness and grief, for 30-year-old López Fértor, it’s a moment for celebration. Every year for the past four years, he has created an altar inside his home to celebrate and remember the lives of friends and relatives who have passed. As he shows me the altar, which he and his roommate have decorated with bright orange marigolds, painted skulls, flickering candles, bottles of tequila and colorful paper cutouts, he points out photographs of his grandfather, grandmother and family friends who are no longer with us.

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