Day of the Dead

The idea is a familiar one: if you build it, they will come. In this case, it’s an ofrenda that will welcome the spirits of your dearly departed.

House of the Spirits

If the Halloween spirit grabs you, so should Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, the Mexican holiday that invites beloved spirits back to play and visit their living loved ones on November 1 and 2. While collectors often showcase their sugar skulls, skeletons made of paper mache or clay, and other art year-round, these days ask that you build an ofrenda—an altar—to entice spirits back home. Building an ofrenda should absolutely reflect your style and family, but a few tips will make sure you’re in keeping with tradition. Decorate with the traditional colors of magenta and gold: the traditional flowers are marigolds, but mums will do in a pinch, as will magenta celosia. Next, gather pictures of the people you wish to bring back home and place them on the table. Decorate with sugar or paper mache skulls, candles, and skeletons that represent the dearly departed (it is believed they are enjoying the same activities they loved in this life). Make sure to include a glass of water and a bowl of salt, as the spirits have had a long journey and need nourishment. To contribute to a community ofrenda, stop by Zinnia Folk Arts by October 31 with your objects/images and owner Anne Damon will be happy to add your objects. Better yet, check out her website to get in on some of the classes and talks she’s hosting to learn more.

Objects in photo from left to right:

Otomi runner, $135. Decorated sugar skull, $28. Cráneo grande, $158. Calaca músico trumpet-playing skeleton, $68. Groom calavera, $28; bride calavera, $28. Biking calavera, $34. Tree of muertos, $72. Calaca músico guitar-playing skeleton, $68. Calavera in pink dress and hat, $40. Small Day of the Dead boxes, $16 each. Cutout paper flags, $10. All products and art available at Zinnia Folk Arts, 826 W. 50th St., Mpls., 612-824-4342,