History of the Día de los Muertos Nicho Box
Nicho boxes, also commonly called Shadow Boxes, are small, recessed frame boxes often seen placed on altars during Día de los Muertos celebrations.
Time for some history behind the nicho box….
Nicho frames or boxes are a Latin American adaptation of the Roman Catholic retablo- which are paintings of patron saints that were commonly done on wood or tin surfaces. Nichos are different than retablos in that they are smaller and generally made from less precious materials.
These small three dimensional type frames that honor or memorialize a person that has passed away can be seen in many Latin American cultures and can be called by other names depending on the location.
Nicho boxes are sometimes a part of the ofrendas of the traditional Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead. The word ofrenda means offering in Spanish. They are also called altares or altars. These ofrendas are not meant as a way to worship the deceased, but as away to remember and honor the deceased.
The Day of the Dead celebrations vary greatly depending on the area and not all Latin American countries even celebrate the Day of the Dead.
Traditional nicho boxes were made from fairly humble materials. Any small box could be made into a nicho. Cardboard cigar boxes, lightweight wood, and tin were common materials.