An Ofrenda for Firulais: How To Celebrate All Día de Muertos Traditions, Including One for Pets
While you’re preparing your ofrendas to honor the deceased during Día de Muertos, you might not realize some traditions start today, October 27. While the holiday traditionally occurs on November 1 and 2, there are many aspects of the celebration that people ring in beforehand.
As posted by Vanguardia México on Instagram, many people begin honoring their passed loved ones as soon as October 27, until November 3. In fact, each of Día de Muertos’ days have special ofrenda rituals and customs.
As you can see, today actually has an extra-special, sweet significance. October 27 is the day to honor pets who have died:
Día de Muertos is a Mexican holiday in remembrance of dead loved ones, creating altars, or ofrendas, to honor them. These ofrendas include photos of the deceased, candles, food like pan de muerto or candy, and drinks such as atole. In fact, people offer food and drinks to ease the spirits’ long journey to our earthly realm.
Meanwhile, people often place orange Mexican marigolds on the ofrenda, too, in order to guide spirits with their sweet scent.
We can trace back the history of these days of remembrance to The Nahua, including the Aztec and Toltec groups. As per National Geographic, these cultures worked to keep the dead alive — at least in spirit. Today, Día de Muertos usually takes on a celebratory tone, bringing people together around food, music, costumes, stories about the dead, and of course, ofrendas.
As one X user described about today, “Tonight, at 00:00, the veil between this world and beyond disappears for a few days, so our loved ones can visit us one more time.”
Here is what to know about how to honor the deceased each day of Día de Muertos, and organize your ofrenda according to tradition.
1. Honor the pets you loved on October 27
The first day of Día de Muertos, October 27, is a day to honor pets who have passed away. As explained by Expansión, your past pets make their journey from the spirit world today, so you can finally feel their presence again:
According to El Comercio, you should set up an ofrenda for your past pets that includes their favorite food, treats, their toys, and a special photo for them.
Fernanda Cortes also spoke about this day on TikTok, describing, “October 27 is the special day during Día de Muertos reserved for dogs who have died to come back and visit us.”
The TikTok user explained that modern times have changed the tradition to include all pets. However, the day did start out specifically for dogs. As explained by Sopitas, this is linked to the Aztec belief that Xoloitzcuintle dogs guided the dead through the underworld.
And yes, we’re crying and smiling at everyone’s Día de Muertos ofrendas for their pets:
2. Light the first candle on October 28
The next day of Día de Muertos is traditionally designated for lighting the very first candle and placing white flowers on your ofrenda. This is the day to honor lonely or “lost souls,” as well as anyone in your life who died in a tragic or violent way. According to TV Azteca, this many times involves deaths by car accidents.
According to the Mexican government’s website, October 28 is the first day human souls “come to this dimension… That day, you should make ofrendas for those who died tragically, due to violence or accidents.”
Even more, as per the website, there are a multitude of ofrenda rituals for all deceased loved ones. For one, placing candles on your altar serves as a “guiding light that gives peace and hope to souls.”
Meanwhile, water is another ofrenda element that “calms the thirst of the deceased.”
3. October 29
Meanwhile, October 29 is the day of Día de Muertos which many people use to remember forgotten souls. As per NBC San Diego, this remembrance often includes dead loved ones who have no one to pray for them anymore.
Vanguardia México states that you can honor forgotten souls by lighting another candle and offering another glass of water on your ofrenda.
One X user posted a photo of their own ofrenda for this day, writing, “On October 29, the Día de Muertos altar is dedicated to the deceased who have been forgotten or who died helpless.”
Adding, “Those who died abandoned or those who have been forgotten by family members are included in this ofrenda.”
Meanwhile, other outlets assure that October 29 is a day to honor people who died after drowning.
4. October 30-31
By October 30 and 31, we’re already inching much closer to the most recognized Día de Muertos days, November 1 and 2. However, the two last days of October are sometimes recognized as dates to remember children who passed away.
However, this isn’t always the case. In fact, some outlets say that October 30 is a day to also remember forgotten souls or those who died without a family.
In any case, Pulso Pop describes how you should light a candle on this day, pour a glass of water, and add a loaf of pan de muerto. As per the website, some also dedicate October 30 to people who died before a last meal. Meanwhile, October 31 is a day to honor long-lost ancestors.
5. November 1 is mostly reserved to honor children
By November 1, we’re in prime Día de Muertos territory, since the holiday traditionally runs between this day and November 2. On this day, you can expect celebrations to be in full swing, including ofrendas dotted with treats and marigolds, tons of homages to La Catrina, parades replete with costumes, and papel picado banners.
In short… it’s epic. However, according to the Mexican government, November 1 is specifically for honoring children who died. This date interestingly coincides with the Catholic “All Saints Day,” and also traditionally celebrates the deceased who led an exemplary life.
As pointed out by one X user, November 1 greatly differs from November 2, which is the day to honor deceased adults.
6. November 2 honors all adults
For many, the last official day of Día de Muertos is November 2, honoring all adults who have died.
In many ways, this is the main day of Día de Muertos, with people taking part in visiting tombs and retelling stories about dead loved ones. There are also many events and parades:
On this day, just like many of the other days, you can add glasses of water, marigolds, atole, pan de muerto, and candles to your ofrenda. However, you can also include incense, which is for purifying the soul’s surroundings. Many also add fruit like mandarins or jícama, and use salt to guide and protect spirits while on Earth.
7. November 3
By November 3, much of the holiday’s traditional celebrations come to a close. However, as per Vanguardia México, you can use this day to light the last candle, burn copal incense, and say goodbye to the spirits as they depart back to their realm.
As one TikTok user wrote, many people take down their ofrendas on this day. This is the date when many believe the deceased depart Earth again.
One more thing? November 3 may also be the start of “Tuki, tuki, tuki, tuki” season:
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