Día de los Muertos

Día de los muertos es una fiesta celebrada en Noviembre primero y segundo. ¿Tu no comprendes? Day of the Dead is a holiday celebrated on November first and second primarily by Spanish cultures. It is a time when families can get together and celebrate their relatives who have passed away.

Día de los Muertos is a tradition celebrated in Latin America. Families visit the grave sites of loved ones and construct beautiful architectures that hold some of the loved one’s favorite things. Food and drinks if it were an elder or toys if it were a child. Ivonne Want, Spanish teacher, describes the traditions that people use to memorialize their departed relatives.

“Día de los Muertos is a celebration observed predominantly in Mexico. It is a celebration to remember those who have passed. On the first, we remember the children and on the second, we remember the adults. We build altars that basically hold what their favorite food or drink was; there are also flowers and candles that light the way back home,” Want said.

Some might think that Day of the Dead is a remorseful holiday, as you are ‘grieving’ the loss of a loved one, but it’s quite opposite actually. While the holiday can bring some unhappy feelings, it is mostly a time for the family of the deceased to remember him or her and honor who they were. For Spanish and Avid teacher, George Hernandez, it is a time when he can reminisce about all of the joyful memories that his sister and father brought him.

“The holiday is supposed to be a happy moment, not a sad one, because they are in a better place. I have lost two people, my father and my sister, and what I do is I say a prayer for them and think about who they were and what they meant to me. I don’t put up an alter, I have their pictures put up in my home. That’s how I celebrate Día de los Muertos,” Hernandez said.

The holiday ties the indigenous culture and Christian religion together. As a result, it is not a holiday that is widely recognized in other countries such as the United States. For sophomore, Emma Westerholm, her understanding is limited which is where the Lake Ridge Spanish department steps in.

“The Day of the Dead is holiday that commemorates a family’s passed away relatives. I don’t really know anything about it because no one really celebrates it like Christmas and Thanksgiving. And I only know about it because of what my Spanish teachers have taught me. I think we should learn more about, you don’t have to participate in it, but it’d be helpful to know more about the holiday and the culture in which it is celebrated in,” Westerholm stated.

Teachers such as Hernandez and Want hold the responsibilities of educating students on the holiday and its significance in Spanish culture. The department uses interactive activities to show what the holiday is all about. Want explains that she uses hands-on activities, such as those that involve art, to teach her students all aspects of the celebration.

“We talk about it and teach them the tradition and what it’s about. We have coloring sheets that have the skulls on them or other stuff like that,” said Want.

For Hernandez, he does several activities including having students share if they have suffered the loss of a family member or friend and how they honor them as well as comparing the holiday with similar holidays that other cultures partake in.

“We allow the students to share if they lost someone and some of the things they do to celebrate him or her. We also do a lot of cultural comparisons to what traditional Dia de los Muertos festivities would look like and compare it to what [the students] do and how they commemorate someone who has passed away,” Hernandez said.

Día de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday in which its participants honor and praise the lives of the loved ones they have lost. While the culture of the United States doesn’t have a holiday that celebrates the lives of people who’ve passed away, it’s important to praise and remember family.

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