Ofrenda Competition for Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

Ofrendas or offerings are traditional in some communities, particularly in Mexico and northern Central America as way of commemorating deceased loved ones.

Students are invited to build displays in the memory of an important person in their field of study who has passed on.

Participants will receive a free Memory Stick. A $100 gift certificate to the UMass campus store will be awarded for the most evocative ofrenda.

Deadline for on line registration is Oct 22nd.

If you are interested in participating, please register here.
(You must log in with your UMass e-mail. If you have a problem with logging in, contact ions@umass.edu)

The Ofrendas must be displayed Oct 29th – Nov 2nd for the UMass Week of Memory and Forgetting.

Here are instructions borrowed from: http://confesionesyrealidades.blogspot.com/2014/11/how-to-la-ofrenda.html

La Ofrenda

1.  Get Permission:  First things first – before you even start planning to put up an ofrenda in your classroom or in a public display somewhere, talk to your administrator and make sure that it will be okay.  Let them know the cultural significance of the project, what it will look like, where it will be, and how long it will be on display.

2. Be Religiously Neutral:  This is a celebration of memory.

3. Avoid Real Food: Ofrendas are traditionally covered up with tasty goodies like sugar skulls, bread, mole, and fresh fruit.  This works great in a home or a small venue where it can be carefully monitored, but in a school where people are constantly coming and going there might be the temptation to sample something. You also don’t want  to invite pests like ants, fruit flies, and cockroaches to the table.

  • Fruit – There are some very convincing fake fruits out there at local craft stores.  You might be able to find some at discount stores too.
  • Bread – Fake bread is for sale online, believe it or not.
  • Skulls – Use plastic skulls available at Halloween stores or make one out of Play-Doh.

4. No Fire: You cannot light real candles or incense at your ofrenda.  To do so would be to invite disaster.
5. Paper Flowers Last Longer: Everyone loves fresh flowers but they are very expensive and short lived. You can make paper marigold flowers with construction paper.  If you want to put some fresh flowers up too, that is a great idea because they actually work well together.
6. Table Cloth: You can use a cheap bed sheet or plastic table cloth.
7. Empty Boxes for Levels: Ofrendas look better when they have two or three levels.  You can create the look by using empty cardboard boxes.
8. Papel Picado: Papel picado is a must for the ofrenda.  These papers gives color, it looks festive, and it is very traditional.  You can make the papel picado yourself or buy some very inexpensively. Here’s a video on how to make them.

9. Pick the HonoreeOfendas honor the spirits of the departed, choose someone who made important contributions to your field of study. Honor them by choosing items and images for the ofrenda that would evoke their memory. Display their picture on your ofrenda.

10. Put Up a Sign: After you register, you will receive an explanation of the Ofrenda and an official Memory and Forgetting poster.

And, of course, have fun.  The holiday is about being joyful so be sure to do some of that too. Have a feliz Día de los Muertos!