Celebrations begin with the cleaning of the graves and the construction of the ofrenda, or altar. At home this consists of a table or platform hung from the ceiling, covered with a white cloth and supporting an arch of palm fronds. The ofrenda are decorated with flowers, particularly the cempasúchil (marigold), the "flower of the dead," as well as the magenta-colored cockscomb, a white gypsophila, gladioli, and carnations. The same flowers are also used to decorate tombs, and the sweet smell of copal, the Native American incense, is ubiquitous. Other altar decorations include images of the deceased as well as papeles picados, colored paper with cutout designs. Continue . . .
Source: Pilcher, Jeffrey M. "Day of The Dead." Encyclopedia of Food and Culture, edited by Solomon H. Katz, vol. 1, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003, pp. 505-506. From Gale eBooks database.
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