During the Day of the Dead festival many people decorate the graves of the deceased or their homes with ofrendas (altars), which contain the favourite foods, beverages, photos and memorabilia of the departed. This welcoming gesture often includes orange marigold flowers called “cempasúchil,” which are thought to attract the souls of the dead to the offerings, small toys for deceased children and bottles of tequila, mezcal or jars of atole for adults.
Some people believe that the spirits of the dead “eat” the food offerings at ofrendas, and leave candied pumpkin, pan de muerto (bread of the dead), sugar skulls and various beverages for the dead to enjoy. In some parts of Mexico, people spend all night beside the graves of their relatives, and leave pillows and blankets at the ofrenda so the deceased can rest after their long journey.
Public schools and government offices also build altars with ofrendas to celebrate the renowned festival.