One of the major holidays of the Mexican culture is the Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos. This is a three day celebration, beginning October 31st that involves food, music, family and flowers. Unlike Halloween, this is not meant to be a scary or spooky time. Rather it is a time of reflection and celebration in which families gather to share memories of loved ones who have died.
The days before the holiday the markets are full of items needed to prepare the traditional foods and decorations. Skeletons and skulls are a common feature. The skeletons are usually comical figures doing everyday types of activities such as playing a guitar or dancing, while paper-mâché skulls are beautifully decorated with glitter and paint. Sugar skulls are delicious treats sold in the markets and are enjoyed by all.
In each grade level, students will be exposed to pictures, stories, and Day of the Dead realia in order to relate the cultural significance of Día de los Muertos.
In First grade, we will read a book in English: “Day of the Dead” in order to introduce this ‘’holiday to our students. After reading the book, they will have an opportunity to decorate a paper “calavera” (skull) with colored tissue paper.
In Second grade, students will listen to a story called: “El Espíritu de Tío Fernando” where they will follow a little Mexican boy and learn how he plans to celebrate the Day of the Dead. Your children will then make “Mi Calaca de Pasta” (My pasta skeleton) using different kinds of pasta.
In Third grade, students will listen to the story “A Gift for Abuelita” and will decorate paper sugar skulls with crayons, glitter, tissue papers, and feathers.
In Fourth grade, students will make and decorate a dancing “esqueleto” (skeleton).
As with many holidays, families share a large meal. One of the favorite foods is the Day of the Dead bread or Pan de Muertos. The bread is seen and sold everywhere during the holiday season. In the next post is a quick and easy recipe for Pan de Muertos. ¡Es delicioso!