Our Day of the Dead is a party, a celebration of life and a day to be with our loved ones who have die. To be precise, it starts on October 31 or at least is when my grandmother begins to put the ofrenda (the offering) but in some places of México start in October 28 (because for some people the visit of the souls depends of age and causes of dead).
Every soul has a candle and according to my grandmother is very important appoint the name of the deceased because is they light for the trip, it points the way from there and back, besides candles (that representing fire) the ofrenda must have salt (representing earth) water, and Somerio incense (representing wind) The Somerio helps to purify and helps the deceased for carry better the flavor of the food because for us is what they keep. Another important thing is the Cempazuchitl flower, represents the sun light and point the way for the deceased.
The candles or lights depends of the number of deceased family also can include friends or neighbors or pets (well, in my family we include pets n_n), In addition to these my grandmother include 4 candles more: one for the "Arriero", one for the "Itacatero" and one for the "Barrendero".
The Arriero - is the soul responsible for seeing the time and advise when it is time to go also to care that nobody is left or lost.
The Itacarero - is responsible for preparing the "itacate" or lunch for the trip back.
The Barredero - is the last to leave and stay to "clean."
The fourth candle is for the souls who have no family to remember them or were forgotten.
My grandmother say that when the fire of the candle are restless or lasts longer than usual is a grateful soul.
Well, my grandmother start in October 31 with the ofrenda for the childrens or angelitos (little angels) the souls of babies and kids. For for them, my grandmother offering: pumpkin candy sweetened with "piloncillo" and of course the famous "calaverita de azucar" (a sugar skull or chocolate skull) for breakfast: milk and for the dinner: hot chocolate and sweet bread or conchas besides all the fruit and toys you can.
In November arrives the adult souls, for them we made "Dead Bread" a very special bread that only eat in this holiday is dusted with sugar and have a funny form with and with imagination represents a tumb with the skull and bones outside,
usually, the families offering the favorite food of they deceased
in our case we serve: Mole with chiken, Pumpkin candy,Tequila, Pulque (alcoholic drinks yeehaa),Tamales (green-red salse, and "Rajas" is chilli), fruit and other dishes.
November 2, is the last day, The Day of "Los Fieles Difuntos" mean "Faithful Deceased" or Souls, they leave our world in the afternoon (around 3 pm) that's why my grandmother wants that everything is ready very early, for them (the souls) can have breakfast and lunch before leaving.
If you believe in ghosts you're wondering OMG a house full of spirits and nothing paranormal! : XD:
well, according to the grandparents, the souls are come in peace, quiet and happy, so there shouldn't be nothing wrong.
There are many ways to put an offering as well as traditions and ways of celebrating, this is the way my grandmother taught her grandparents and taught us to us.
As a last note, the Day of the Dead is considered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since the November 7, 2003.