Tuesday, November 1st and Wednesday, November 2nd we celebrated Dia de Los Muertos at school. Although often described as the “Mexican Halloween,” I learned this week that Dia de los Muertos is much more than that.
Dia de los Muertos (really 2 days) is a combination pagan-Catholic holiday in which the spirits of the dead are believed to stream out of the gates of the underworld and return to visit their old homes and survivors. The families decorate the house, cook special food, and create ofrendas (altars) with candles, flowers, food, pictures, incense, salt, water and fruit for the dead people to feast upon during their earthly visit. There are also parades, processions and, in some families, grave-side picnics. Skeletons and skulls form the main motif. Especially one very famous skeleton: La Catrina.Originally a political cartoon satirizing upper-class, wanna-be Europeans in Mexico, la Catrina has come to be a symbol of Day of the Dead specifically and Mexico in general.
The students made and decorated sugar skulls to celebrate. Tomorrow they plan to eat them. My rule is they can eat them as long as it’s not before or during my class. I’ll let them make the sugar skulls but I won’t let them go crazy in my class. Here are some of the student’s creations: