November 1, 2015 will mark Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a 3,000 year old Mexican holiday honoring the dead. A tradition deriving from the confluence of Aztec ritual and Spanish Catholicism, Dia de Los Muertos is a widely-celebrated moment in the Mexican and broader Latin American experience, and is meant to memorialize the dead by celebrating our loved ones as they lived, thereby suggesting a powerful continuum between birth, youth, adulthood, death, and the afterlife.
Whether you are interested in bringing the colorful treasures of this holiday into your classroom, are interested in making marigolds to be handed out at El Museo del Barrio’s November 1 celebration, interested in drawing your own calaveras (decorative skeletons) or are hoping to bring an ofrenda to one of New York’s many cultural institutions, Dia de Los Muertos is a tradition brimming with learning possibilities and an excellent occasion to honor our departed loved ones. A few of these opportunities and handy resources are detailed below.
Childrens’ books currently on our bookshelves offering historical context and visual engagement with the holiday include: El Dia De Los Muertos by Bob Barner; El Festival de las Calaveras by Luis San Vincente; Marina Molina and the Days of the Dead by Kathleen Krull; My Familia Calaca by Cynthia Weill
***Also, check out our small exhibit of DoD childrens’ books, on display now in Bank Street Library, and the colorful papel picado donated by Bank Street student Julie Donnadieu!***
Super Sabado: Museo del Barrio’s Day of The Dead Celebration
CalState Los Angeles’ well-curated Dia de Los Muertos LibGuide, a handy resource for bringing DoD into your classroom
Want to engage your students by building your own Day of the Dead altars? Check out this how-to from The Mija Chronicles!
For an important social justice orientation with the holiday, consider Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders’ Day of the Dead tribute to Mexican journalists murdered in Mexico in the past year