So, what is Dia De Los Muertos? Day of the Dead sounds kind of scary and evil, doesn't it? Absolutely not, many cultures handle the passing of loved ones very differently. Some decide on more solemn sentiments while others celebrate the life their loved one lived, and understanding that their passing isn't a "Good bye" more of a "See you later".
This year, we taught the students about the holiday and it surprisingly helped a lot of them understand that it's okay to be sad, but to understand everyone has different beliefs, and one way to help them feel a little less sad is to celebrate their loved one, instead of only mourning them. We took this as an opportunity to learn some Spanish vocabulary, as well as cultural practices from our neighbors in Mexico. We crafted colorful calaveras (the Spanish word for skulls) into papel picados and recuerdos (papel picado is a small, colorful piece of paper that is cut, designed and attached to typical altars or items made to commemorate a passed loved one; Recuerdo means "memory").
There were plenty of touching mementos that provided some comfort for our students, as well as some hope that these thoughts from the heart are received by those we have lost.
No matter how you choose to honor a loved one, take this time of the year to reflect on the memories you have, let them know that you are thinking of them and they are still loved until you see them again. Most people unfamiliar with the purpose of Dia de Los Muertos would think that a bunch of a brightly colored skulls or altars with flowers look strange or wonder why a culture would celebrate something as scary as death. It isn't a celebration of death, it's a celebration of family, legacy, and life.
Until next time,