THE DAY OF THE DEAD (OCT. 31st – NOV. 2nd)
DISCOVERING RICH MEXICAN TRADITIONS
In this short low-fi video documentary, Professor José Flores offers his insights about the traditions and mythologies of the Day of the Dead (Diá de los Muertos) celebration in Mexico. This video was filmed at the Rancho La Puerta Spa in Baja, Mexico last year by Stephen Brown, and is a great educational resources for parents and students.
As Professor Flores explains in the video, the mythologies behind Diá de los Muertos are rich in traditional foods, including Mexican Sugar Skulls, offered as a token of sweetness. At www.mexicansugarskull.com you can find a step-by-step pictorial on making sugar skulls at home or with a classroom. There are many other traditional foods associated with this holiday, including Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead), Calabaza en Tacha (a pumpkin candy), and a sweet masa drink called atole,
CURRICULUM & ACTIVITIES
Teachers and home schoolers with kids 8 through 13 might be interested in the lesson plan Mexico’s Day of the Dead offered by http://www.teachervision.com as an opportunity for students to “gain an understanding that various cultures have differing views of life and death.” And at teacherlink.ed.usu.edu educators can find a Day of the Dead Mini-Unit for children in grades 4th & 5th.
In addition to making any of the foods mentioned under “Traditional Foods,” families might enjoy making paper marigolds to use for decorations. This link includes a video to watch too.
HISTORY & PHOTOS
For more information on this holiday, Wikipedia offers a look at observance in Mexico (including origins and beliefs) as well as a look at observations outside Mexico.
Photographer Nicholas Beatty has a beautiful photo essay that takes a pictorial look at some of the rich traditions surrounding Diá de los Muertos.
- For Young Children
- Mexican Folk Art Coloring Book (Dover Coloring Book) by Marty Noble
- Barrilete: A Kite for the Day of the Dead by Elisa Amado (Author), Joya Hairs (Illustrator) (Ages 7-10)
- Gift For Abuelita (Bilingual): Celebrating the Day of the Dead by Nancy Luenn (Ages 4-8)
- Pablo Remembers by George Ancona (Ages 7-9)
- The Spirit of Tio Fernando: A Day of the Dead Story by Janice Levy (Ages 7-9)
- Day Of The Dead Through The Eyes Of The Soul: Mexico City by Mary J. Andrade [Includes regional recipes]
- Day of the Dead by Tony Johnston & Jeanette Winter (Ages 5-8)
- Felipa and the Day of the Dead by Birte Muller (Ages 5-7)
- Festival of Bones / El Festival de las Calaveras: The Little-Bitty Book for the Day of the Dead IIllustrated by Luis San Vicente (Ages 4-8)
- Clatter Bash!: A Day of the Dead Celebration by Richard Cleminson Keep (Ages 5-9)
- For Teachers, Parents & Older Students
- The Skeleton at the Feast: The Day of the Dead in Mexico by Elizabeth Carmichael & Chloë Sayer
- Skulls to the Living, Bread t othe Dead: The Day of the Dead in Mexico and Beyond by Stanley Brandes
- Dia De Muertos en Mexico-Oaxaca by Mary J. Andrade (Photographer), Andrade Mary J. (Author)
- Digging the Days of the Dead: A Reading of Mexico’s Dias De Muertos by Juanita Garciagodoy
- The Days of the Dead: Mexico’s Festival of Communion with the Departed by John Greenleigh (Photographer), Rosalind Rosoff Beimler (Author)
- Home Altars of Mexico by Ramon A. Gutierrez, William H. Beezley, Sal Scalora (Photographer), Dana Salvo
- Halloween and Other Festivals of Death and Life by Jack Santino
What do Mexicans Celebrate on the “Day of the Dead”?
A description of the November Mexican holiday, El Día de los Muertos, and its origins. [c.LII]
Día de los Muertos
This Day of the Dead site provides information on the foods, history, events, altars, and culture of the popular Mexican holiday celebrated on November 2. From The Arizona Republic. [c.LII]
Mexico/Central America for Visitors
A searchable, annotated directory for a wide range of topics about Mexico and Central America. Some of the areas include geography, politics and government, immigration, doing business in Latin America, current events, art, crafts, Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), history, holidays, culture, religion, and more. There are a few links to sites in Spanish. An About.com site. [c.LII]
Food for the Ancestors
This site is a companion to a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) program presenting a “culinary-history exploration of Days of the Dead [Dias de los Muertos]” as celebrated in Puebla, Mexico. The site includes a description of the holidays and their altars (ofrendas), the traditional art depicting skeletons (calaveras), and a few recipes including one for “Salsa de Gusanos de Maguey (Worm Sauce)” with a clip of someone eating it. Not for the squeamish. [c.LII]
Reverent Remembrance: Honoring the Dead
Companion to an exhibit that “explore[s] the ancient Celtic roots of Halloween, the colorful Mexican Day of the Dead, mummification and other death rituals in ancient Egypt, Indonesian cliff burials, and modern American memorials, including those following the 9/11 tragedy.” The site includes descriptions of activities and beliefs, exhibit handouts, and links to related sites. From the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. [c.LII]