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Spanish 1 celebrates Dia de los Muertos

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While many students may be suffering from sugar overloads and basking in post Halloween blues, the festivities are just beginning for Spanish 1 students. In their Spanish 1 classes, students celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) a traditional Mexican holiday meant to remember those who have passed.

On Dia de los Muertos, families spend the day gathering objects to create ofrendas (altars) for loved ones. These are often filled with items that the deceased enjoyed, such as a specific food, clothing items, or toys, along with incense, candles, pictures, icons, and flowers. Later, they visit their graves to clean and decorate them with flowers, incense and candles. Finally, families spend the night in the cemetery along with their neighbors, celebrating their lives. Stories are told, food is consumed, and friends and family enjoy each other’s company.

“This is a celebration of loved ones that is town wide. It’s not meant to be solemn,” said Ms. Bianca Lopez, Spanish teacher.

“We wanted the students to learn about the history and tradition of Dia de los Muertos. We had them try Pan de los Muertos (Bread of the dead), which is customary for the celebration. And we made Calaveras (sugar skulls) out of paper plates and hung them around the classroom,” Lopez said.

For many students, this was the first time they had heard of Dia de los Muertos, or that they had gone into detail about it.

“I never heard of it before a few days ago,” said Julia Rajaka, freshman.

“I knew only about the skulls, and that it was similar to Halloween,” said Ramya Surabhi, freshman.

The fact that Halloween closely coincides Dia de los Muertos, but is not connected to Halloween, is an important misconception that the teachers hoped to clarify when talking about the holiday.

“We talked about the differences. Students often ask if this is ‘Mexican Halloween,’ which it’s not. They also ask if Mexicans celebrate Halloween, which they don’t. However, I do believe that there is a reason this day is around the same time as other holidays such as All Saints and All Souls day, and Halloween,” Lopez said.

Overall, the idea of celebrating Dia de los Muertos was to provide students with a learning experience while taking them out of their normal routine.

“I think that these celebrations are fun. It’s a day of culture. It is important for students to have a class unlike their daily class,” Lopez said.

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Spanish 1 celebrates Dia de los Muertos