Tuesday, November 3, 2009

El Dia de los Muertos

My last teaching gig was as a first grade teacher at a Spanish Immersion elementary school. An excellent school, where we taught everything in Spanish to mostly English speaking students. Our biggest celebration of the year was El Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. Each classroom had an ofrenda (altar) as part of cultural curriculum on Latin America. The whole school would tour through each room to see the displays, which also often included Halloween themes.

I have always thought El Dia de los Muertos is a wonderful celebration. For me it is not at all macabre. It is about remembering and honoring loved ones who have died.

Our own culture avoids the topic of death most of the time (unless it is sensationalized, violent death, unfortunately). But I think it is okay to confront it, and the emotions we have about it. It may bring up fear and sadness for some, hope and joy for others. I like to focus on the remembering and the "live each day as if it were your last" idea. I like the sharing and storytelling aspects--retelling tales involving our lost loved ones. I think it reinforces a sense of history in our families, allowing us more connections to our past.

When Valerie and Andrew are a little older, I'd like for us to make our own ofrenda each year at El Dia de los Muertos. For me it will be a special way to honor and remember, among others, my two grandfathers who died before my children were born.

1 comment:

  1. This is WONDERFUL Sara! You are a brilliant writer. You could write a chidren's book around this and it would be a best seller (in Spanish and English). According to the research and the children programs in this area - the earlier you begin doing these sorts of rituals with children and normalizing this part of life,the better.