Molded candles guide spirits to altars on Mexico’s Day of the Dead
By Gabriela Garcia Guzman
Puebla, Mexico, Oct 26 (EFE).- Molded candles during Mexico’s Day of the Dead festivities are more than just a source of light for people in Tochimilco, in the city of Puebla, where it is believed the candles’ light helps guide spirits back to the land of the living.
Altars are loaded with offerings such as food, fruit, sweets and candles as a way to honor and commemorate the deceased loved ones on the centuries-old festive events running from October 28 until November 2.
María del Rocío Pérez Arenas has been making candles for 33 years. Her candles come in all sizes, colors and decorations.
“People, even if they make their altars very simple, try to put candles,” Arenas says. “If it is an offering for a first anniversary, they look for ones adorned” with an angel picture or the name of the departed person.
Arenas and her children work in the family workshop to carry on the artistic tradition she learned from her husband, who worked in the craft for 40 years but stopped after he lost his sight as a result of diabetes.
She highlights that a single candle can take up to five hours to make, because they need to be put over fire in certain areas and then left to cool down afterwards.
Craftswoman Argelia Flores Rangel also has taken on candle-making 20 years ago when she met her husband and asked her mother-in-law to teach her how to work with wax so that she could set up her workshop and sell her artwork.
Rangel explains that she makes around 2,500 pieces for the Day of the Dead but because all candles are handmade using tweezers, molds, glitters, ribbons and angel decals, she starts preparing them a couple of months ahead of the festival.
Candle-makers start by putting wax on low heat and once it reaches the needed temperature, they use tweezers to carve crosses, clovers or leaves and then sprinkle glitter, all of that should be done before it hardens.