FC: Mexico's Day of the Dead | Jennifer Harper
1: Day of the Dead: A Celebration of Life!
3: Did you know that while we in America are just ending our season of Halloween, in Mexico a very different celebration is just beginning? Starting at midnight on October 31st through November 2nd, the country of Mexico celebrates a holiday called Day of the Dead, or El Día de los Muertos. This holiday is a tradition of Mexican ancestors that merged with Catholic beliefs to create a special time and space to remember and honor loved ones who have passed away.
5: Even though the name sounds scary, the Day of the Dead is seen as a happy and colorful celebration of life. People offer their loved ones many nice things, such as flowers, candles, special foods, and prayers. Let's get a "sense" of what it might be like to celebrate this holiday in Mexico...
7: Elaborately decorated altars can be seen all across the country. The alter includes the four main elements of nature—earth, wind, water, and fire. Earth is symbolized by a crop used to "feed the soul;" wind by a moving object, such as tissue paper. A container with water is placed on the altar to satisfy the soul’s thirst after its trip to the altar. Lastly, a wax candle represents fire and, when lit, is meant to represent a soul.
9: You will enjoy the taste of sweet sugar candies! One of the most popular candies during this celebration are sugar skulls—they can be seen everywhere in Mexico at this time of year! Molded from a sugar paste, then decorated with icing, glitter, and foil, these skulls often are placed on altars. The sugar represents the sweetness of life, and the skull represents the sadness of death.
11: Music can be heard throughout the celebration. Sometimes a single musician will play by the tomb. Other times a whole band will perform at the entrance of the cemetery. No matter where the musicians are, their music is meant to honor the deceased.
13: You will smell the delightful fragrance of flowers; they are a huge part of the holiday. The orange marigold was the flower that the Aztecs used to remember their dead by. The color represents the tones of earth and is used to guide the souls to their homes and altars.
15: You will touch many calaveras, which are colorfully and brightly decorated skulls/skeletons. They are often dressed in humorous outfits or make-up and can be seen all over at this time of year. They are meant to go against the seriousness and sadness that usually comes with death.
17: You have been on an exciting and wonderful journey! You have had the opportunity to learn about what it is like to see, smell, hear, touch, and taste the celebration of Mexico's Day of the Dead.
19: As you can see, it takes many days of preparation to get ready for one of the biggest holidays in Mexico. The whole community participates enthusiastically in the preparations of this festivity! The purpose of this beautiful ritual is to lovingly and happily remember the dead relatives, their lives, and in this way, give meaning and continuity to human existence. The Day of the Dead is a grand celebration of life itself!
21: Resources http://www.dayofthedead.com http://www.azcentral.com http://www.mexconnect.com http://www.inside-mexico.com