As a parent you are supposed to help your child love and embrace new things. As they grow into their own sense of self, they find things that they want to learn/know/do all the things with. Most of the time it’s something safe like dinosaurs, space or princesses. But sometimes it falls to something you don’t know much about or something you think is totally appropriate.
With my son, it was zombies and death.
I’m honestly not sure where it came from, but I’m not one to shy away from “weird” – so we’ve gone along with it. His main focus the past few years has been the Day of the Dead or Día de los Muertos.
Day of the Dead is a holiday celebrated around the world. It’s been brought to the forefront of pop culture with movies such as The Book of Life and Coco, and the appearance of sugar skulls in stores across town. In addition to letting my son know that we support his interests, I also wanted to learn more and teach him that it’s not just a pop culture fad. We’ve been to events around town and read books and articles about the holiday together. Here are a few things about the holiday we’ve learned and how it is celebrated.
- Celebrations begin on October 31 and ends November 2nd and collectively referred to as Day of the Dead. It consists of 2 different holidays, November 1st – Día de los Inocentes and November 2nd – Day of the Dead. The holidays are celebrated in correlation with the Christian celebrations of All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
- In celebration, families go to the graves of their loved ones to clean and decorate the site. They decorate with ofrendas (altars) that have pictures of their loved ones and flowers. The most popular flower used is an orange marigold and the scent is so strong it will supposedly help lead souls to their families.
- Along with the decorations on the ofrendas, families will also leave favorite food and drink for their loved ones and families with deceased children will leave toys. These are all left as welcoming gestures for the deceased. Some of the traditional foods left include candy and pan de muerto (bread of the dead).
- Sugar skulls, traditionally known as a calavera, are the representation of a skull. It is in candy form and the deceased’s name is written on the forehead and placed on the ofrenda or gravestone to honor their soul.
- Celebrations for the holiday originated in Mexico but are celebrated worldwide with different traditions for each geographical region.
In the beginning I thought it was really strange as a family who has no direct ties to celebrating that holiday start to begin celebrating it. Instead of shutting it down, we are trying to make his fascination into a learning experience.
We created an ofrenda in our house to decorate and celebrate our lost loved ones. In addition to attending events around town we introduce him to a different culture as well.
It has been fun to learn something new and see how excited he is as we’re doing it together.
Want to see what it’s all about? Check out these Day of the Dead Events around Wichita:
10/26/18 | 6pm-9pm
11/6/21 | 9am-12p
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