Día de los Muertos is a Mexican celebration lasting 3 days in which those who have passed away are celebrated, honored, and invited to partake in colorful festivities rich with meaning. This celebration begins on the eve of what is known in this country as Halloween, and continues for the next two days, culminating in the "day of the dead" on November 2nd. The celebration has its roots in an Aztec tradition, and today is a blend of indigenous practices and catholic rituals. A few weeks ago, Spanish I, II, and III began a unit of study that, through the exploration of Día de Muertos, will take students on a journey of learning about ancient civilizations throughout the Spanish-speaking world. Students will learn about the ways different pre-hispanic civilizations have conceptualized life and death, and the influence that Spanish colonization has had on those beliefs and traditions. They will also begin to see parallels with traditions more familiar to them, such as halloween, which has its own roots in pre-christian civilizations of northern Europe. As they learn about the past, Spanish II students will begin to learn past tenses, and Spanish 3 students will continue to deepen their understanding of past tenses. All classes will become more familiar with the physical geography of the Spanish-speaking world as well as the cultural landscape. Furthermore, the study of life and death offers the opportunity to discuss and refine the use of the verbs used to express being, thought, belief, and feeling. Ask your Spanish I, II, or III student about the ways death and life are viewed and acknowledged by people who practice Día de Muertos, and how it differs from views commonly held here in the US. Keeping in mind what you learn from them, keep your eyes peeled for the ofrenda they made with the help of 5th grade (who made the paper flowers) and 4th grade (the papel picado) at the beginning of the week in the library. Parents and friends of the school are welcome to bring items of their own to honor the lives of their departed loved ones as well.
-Hailee Newman, US Spanish Teacher