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Día de los Muertos at Sonoma Academy

Maitane Elorza and Daniela Delario, Spanish Teachers
Día de los Muertos is a Meso-American holiday that honors the lives of those who are no longer with us. It is celebrated on November 1 and 2, mainly in México, although countries like Bolivia, Perú, Ecuador, Guatemala and Spain celebrate it as well. In Mexico, people clean and decorate the cemeteries with great care and detail, adorning them with flowers, candles, food, and more. On November 1, they go to the cemeteries of their beloved ones with relatives, friends and neighbors. There, they spend the night sitting in vigil, while they share memories, food and music with their family and friends. This celebration intends to bring the community together, both the living and the departed. The celebration acknowledges that our ancestors and loved ones that departed this world still live within us, and they don’t really die as long as they are remembered.

People in Mexico also build ofrendas at home. Here is the significance of the main objects placed in an ofrenda (shrine):
  • Water - Source of life. The souls of the dead are supposed to relieve their thirst after a long journey back from their short visit to their homes on Earth.
  • Salt - To purify their souls and bodies.
  • Candles - They mean "light," hope, and faith.
  • Cigarettes - Smoking was a very serious ritual and the smoke meant a connection between Earth and Sky.
  • Food and Belongings- All of the dishes of food, fruits, and drinks, as well as personal objects belonging to them, are placed at the ofrenda.
  • Photos - Photos give relevance and intensity to the remembrance of our dead.
  • Marigold Flowers (Cempasuchil)- These flowers are specially chosen to render honor to Death. The soul of our dead will leave happy because flowers will add happiness to their ofrendas.
This week at Sonoma Academy, we created a few ofrendas to remember our deceased loved ones. Our students and staffulty brought photos of their relatives, friends and pets that had died. In class we shared memories about the ones whose lives we were honoring in the ofrendas, and we ate pan de muerto. Finally, we watched the movie Coco during lunch. ¡Feliz Día de los Muertos!
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