Día de Los Muertos is not exactly a mainstream American holiday – yet. But with Day of the Dead altars popping up everywhere, from elementary school hallways to the waiting room of an Echo Park therapist’s office* (pictured above), it might be a good idea to get some tips on the proper way to decorate that holiday shrine. A primer on Día de Los Muertos on ehow.com describes the altar essentials:
“Traditional altars consist of an arcos, or arch, covered with marigold flowers. The arch is symbolic of a head board for the bed of those who have died and also of the arching heavens. Most altars also contain images of the Virgin Mary, pictures of the dead, momentos that remind the living of the dead, candles, and food and drink for the returning spirits. Day of the Dead altars customarily use papel picado as decoration.”
The website offers a tutorial if you want more details. For those who would rather admire the altars created by others, East Los Angeles College will present a student exhibit of altars. On Tuesday, Tropico de Nopal gallery near Echo Park will host an opening reception for an exhibit of traditional and contemporary shrines as well a Calavera Fashion Show & Walking Altars.
* Photo by the Center for Psychology of Women, an Eastsider sponsor