Written by Hannah Boothe Views: 1217
Setting up an altar to honor your ancestors is a great way to celebrate a life well lived. If you're getting ready to set up an ancestral altar for the first time you may wonder what kind of items to include. Following are ten items you should consider placing on your ancestral altar this year.
1. Special Pictures
Your loved one's picture is a central element of your ancestral altar. Choose the photos that mean the most to you. They could be a picture of your loved one as a child or They could be more recent ones. If you are creating an ancestral altar for more than one loved one be sure to include a photo of each person if possible.
2. Altar Cloth
An altar is a special and sacred place to honor your loved one. Its appearance should mirror the sacredness of the space. The cloth you choose could be your loved one's favorite color, or it may be a special item that belonged to them.
3. Tangible Items and Family Heirlooms
Do you have something small that was passed down through your family and now it belongs to you? Whether it's a pocket watch or a coin, be sure to include a place for it on your altar. Also, keep in mind that these items should be special things that meant a great deal to your loved one.
4. Family Symbols
Your family's heritage should play a large role in your ancestral altar. Find a picture, a piece of art, or a symbol that is representative of your family's heritage. A map of your family's country of origin is a great symbol to include, or you could even place wooden carvings or items like your country's national flower on your altar too. Get creative with what you include and be sure to ask your relatives for any ideas they might have.
5. Favorite Foods
Did your relative have a favorite food or personal recipe your family loved? Be sure to include those items in your altar. In many cultures, particular foods are sacred symbols and offerings that are reserved for certain days like those leading up to Dia de Los Muertos.
6. Drinks and Alcoholic Beverages
It's customary to include a drink or two on an ancestral altar. This drink can be something as simple as water or it could be their favorite alcoholic beverage. Many cultures include a can of beer or a glass of wine on the altar to serve as an offering to their loved one. Tequila is also a popular choice as it is customary to offer a toast to your ancestors and loved ones who are being honored.
Candles are always included on ancestral altars and there is usually a combination of pillars and votives scattered throughout the display. Whatever type of candle you choose you should place them in candle holders to keep the wax from spilling. Wholesale votive candle holders are a great option to consider if you're creating several ancestral altars for your family.
Incense is a very sacred item that is used throughout the world during religious ceremonies. Incense comes in many forms however it is usually available as a cone or a stick. Be sure to pick a pleasant scent and keep it lit while you're honoring your loved one.
In Mexico, butterflies are symbolic of ancestors returning to visit their loved ones. Include a few pictures of monarch butterflies on your altar, or you could even purchase beautiful butterfly replicas to scatter throughout the space. If you have children you could even get them involved with this part of your setup.
10. Religious Articles
If your ancestral altar is religious in nature be sure to include symbols of your religion as part of your setup. A bible or other sacred text along with a cross or other religious symbol is a beautiful way to honor the spirit of your loved one.
Your ancestral altar is personal and you can modify it any way you like. By keeping these tips in mind and taking the time to pick meaningful items you can create a beautiful and unique altar to celebrate and honor the spirit of your ancestors and loved ones.
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