Dia de los Muertos
Lena, our Jeffers Room teacher talks us through the significance behind the celebration and the wonderful works created by the children whilst exploring Dia de los Muertos.
Children in our nursery celebrated "Dia de los Muertos" by making a lovely collage of Calavaras Catrina.
Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a celebration of life and death. While the holiday originated in Mexico, it is celebrated all over Latin America with colourful calaveras (skulls) and calacas (skeletons).
Day of the Dead originated thousand years ago with the Aztec, Toltec, and other Nahua people, who considered mourning the dead disrespectful. For them, death was a natural phase in life’s long continuum. The dead were still members of the community, kept alive in memory and spirit. People believed that during Día de los Muertos, they temporarily returned to Earth. Today’s Día de los Muertos celebration is a mixture of pre-Hispanic religious rites and Christian feasts. It takes place on November 1 and 2—All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day on the Catholic calendar.
The very important symbol of the Dia de los Muertos is an altar, or ofrenda, which people build at their homes and cemeteries. These altars meant to welcome spirits back to the land of the living. They’re full of offerings, such as water, food, family photos, and a candle for each dead relative. If one of the spirits is a child, you might find small toys on the altar. Marigolds are the main flowers used to decorate the altar. Marigold petals guid souls back to their place of rest. The smoke from copal incense, made from tree resin, transmits praise and prayers and purifies the area around the altar.
Day of the Dead is a social holiday that lasts during day and night. People of all ages have their faces artfully painted to resemble skulls, and, mimicking the calavera Catrina and they wear fancy costumes with jingling bits attached to them in order to rouse the dead and keep them close.
In 2008, UNESCO recognized the importance of Día de los Muertos by adding the holiday to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
We love the beautiful colourful representations our children created in response to the exploration.