The altars used in the prehispanic tradition of the Day of the Dead, a celebration in early November each year; are one of most important aspects in the ceremonies and affairs which take place throughout the day. These altars also know as ofrendas, are decorated with flowers, images of saints, candles, skulls, traditional Mexican foods, and objects which once belonged to the deceased to honor and please them. The flowers usually consist of large brightly colorful flowers such as marigolds and chrysanthemums. The food is placed there for the dead ones spirits to consume, a special bread is made also for that particular holiday, "pan de muerto", its a plain round sweet bread sprinkled with white sugar and a crisscrossed bone shape laid on top. The candles should be placed on the top level of the altar, at four points, to signify the four cardinal points, and the reason behind the candles is that they will illuminate the way for the dead upon their return. .
The skulls which seem a bit morbid and gashtly, yet signify something wholly different than anything morbid, three skulls are placed on the second level to represent the Holy Trinity, father, son and Spirit. One large skull is also to be placed on the third level to represent the Giver of Life. Images of the favorite saints are frequently placed on the altar to derive special divine protection for loved ones. Ofcourse a picture of the person that the altar is dedicated to is of great importance. Another odd custom, is to set out a towel and a bar of soap, along with a mirror, so that the spirits can freshen up before they feast on their favorite foods. In some cases chairs are to be placed out for the spirits to sit and rest.
The types of flowers and styles of the altars decoration varies from place to place, different customs also can be seen in the area of which different beliefs are seen. Bigger cities are also less likely to celebrate the Day of the Dead as much as more rural towns, but no matter where you go it is sure to be a festive time.