Christmas is probably the most well-known holiday worldwide although the celebration may go by another name such as Hanukah or Kwanzaa.
One lesser known holiday is Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, which is a celebration of the lives of the dead, where family members get together to honor the delicate balance between death and happiness.
S. C. Lee Junior High School Spanish class students did some research about Día de los Muertos and were allowed to create a small ofrenda or a personal altar honoring a loved one.
“I am glad that I was given the opportunity to do the small altar for my grandmother. It made me feel connected to her again,” student Andrea Steller said.
The holiday is observed within a span of three days over All Hallows Eve, All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day.
All Hallows Eve is when children make altars for the spirits of children. All Saints Day is thought to be when the spirits of adults visit, and All Soul’s Day is when families decorate the gravestones of their relatives.
The decorations are an important piece to then holiday, as it is thought to help guide many of the spirits back to Earth.
“Doing the research really help me understand that Día De Los Muertos is all about celebrating the past life of a family member,” student Neleha Jett said. “I think it is better than Halloween in the sense that we are thinking about someone else instead of ourselves.”
Spanish teacher Maria Delgado allowed students to paint their faces with sugar skull makeup, which is considered a way of commemorating dead loved ones.
“It is in no way connected to Halloween and the spooky makeup trick-or-treaters may be wearing around the same time,” Delgado said. “The holiday makeup has significant meaning that is important to understand if one wants to truly appreciate the Mexican holiday.
“In fact, those who participate in Día de los Muertos festivities use the sugar skull makeup to help them put aside their fear of death and appreciate the fact that death is a natural cycle of life.”