Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Día De Muertos - Day Of The Dead

El Catrin


As a global educator, it is very important to teach my students to be proud of our Mexican traditions and culture. My 3rd grade students and I connect to different classrooms around the world and share our projects about The Day of the Dead every November. 

My students and I make research about the origins of this holiday in Mexico and prepare our own material to present an interdisciplinary project to other elementary students. Students talk about the importance of marking Nov 1st by building altars in their homes, with offerings of food and drink for the departed, whom they believe their relatives return during this fiesta. We have collaborated and communicated with students from the USA, Alaska, Canada, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Ghana, India and Australia.
Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico on November 1st and 2nd. It is a holiday in which Mexicans remember and honor their deceased loved ones. Though it may sound gloomy or morbid, it's not. It's a festive and colorful holiday. Mexicans visit cemeteries, decorate the graves and spend time there, in the presence of their deceased friends and family members. They also make elaborately decorated altars (called ofrendas) in their homes to welcome the spirits. 
Dia De Muertos Parade 2017
In Prehispanic times the dead were buried close to family homes (sometimes in a tomb underneath the house) and there was great emphasis on maintaining ties with deceased ancestors, who were believed to continue to exist on a different plane. With the arrival of the Spaniards and Catholicism, All Souls' and All Saints' Day practices were incorporated into Prehispanic beliefs and customs and the holiday as we know it today came to be celebrated. The belief behind Day of the Dead practices is that spirits return to the Earth for one day of the year to be with their families. It is said that the spirits of babies and children who have died (called angelitos, "little angels") arrive on October 31st at midnight, spend an entire day with their families and then leave. Adults come the following day. 



Because of its importance as a defining aspect of Mexican culture and the unique aspects of the celebration, which have been passed down through generations, Mexico's indigenous festivity dedicated to the dead was recognized by UNESCO as part of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2008.


The spirits are greeted with offerings of special foods and things that they enjoyed when they were alive. These are laid out on an altar in the family home. It is believed that the spirits consume the essence and the aroma of the foods that are offered. When the spirits depart, the living consume the food and share it with their family, friends and neighbors.




Other items that are placed on the altar include sugar skulls, often with the person's name inscribed on the top, pan de Muertos, a special bread that is made especially for the season, and cempasuchil (marigolds) which bloom at this time of year and lend a special fragrance to the altar.

These are laid out on an altar in the family home. It is believed that the spirits consume the essence and the aroma of the foods that are offered. When the spirits depart, the living consume the food and share it with their family, friends and neighbors. Other items that are placed on the altar include sugar skulls, often with the person's name inscribed on the top, pan de Muertos, a special bread that is made especially for the season, and cempasuchil (marigolds) which bloom at this time of year and lend a special fragrance to the altar.

If you are an educator and you are willing to connect with my class and learn about his colorful holiday, do not hesitate to contact me at @Aparicio_Pedro. 

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