Understanding the meanings on our ofrendas for Day of the Dead

NOW: Understanding the meanings on our ofrendas for Day of the Dead

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – On CBS 58 and Telemundo Wisconsin, we’ve been learning about Day of the Dead, otherwise known as Día de los Muertos. It’s a Mexican holiday that’s made its way through Latin America and now here, to the United States.

Telemundo Wisconsin 11am anchor Montse Ricossa joined the morning show on Tuesday to explain what the symbols behind the day mean.

On an ofrenda, or offering, you’ll often see pictures of the dead, the food they loved, as well as bright orange flowers known as cempasuchiles and skeletons, known as catrinas.

Ahead of the holiday, it’s important to know the meaning behind the items placed on the ofrendas. The most prominent symbol is likely La Catrina. More or less, a catrina is a skull. The skull motif dates back to the Aztecs and Mexicans. It all started with Jose Pasada, a political cartoonist when he was poking fun during the revolution of Mexican citizens who wanted to emulate rich Europeans. He claimed that was not staying true to their roots.

So, the catrina cartoon depicts a person by just showing their bones, a hat and a feather. What this shows is that no matter who you pretend to be, we’re all the same underneath.

Another huge symbol we see when thinking of day of the dead are the flowers: most commonly cempasuchiles, or marigolds.

The gold color is meant to draw the souls home from November first to second. There's a legend that there was a priest- an Aztec legend – who was questioning the afterlife after many people in the village had died from a sickness. He said, we're supposed to celebrate the afterlife, but is there an afterlife? He asked for a sign, And the next morning, the hills were covered in marigolds.

So it goes that the golden color of cempasuchiles represents the sun, and lights the way home for the dead back to earth. You can buy marigolds, or make some at home for your ofrenda.

Next Tuesday, Oct. 31 at 7:30 a.m.  on WMLW, Ricossa will bring back those symbols and show you how to make your own ofrenda.

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