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Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, may sound scary, but it’s really not.
Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican Holiday. It is celebrated from October 31st to November 2nd to honor family relatives who have died. According to NatGeo:
Day of the Dead combines the ancient Aztec custom of celebrating ancestors with All Souls’ Day, a holiday that Spanish invaders brought to Mexico starting in the early 1500s.
For the people who celebrate Day of the Dead, death is not seen as necessarily sad, but instead it is viewed as just part of the cycle of life. Children are not taught to fear death. (Novel idea, huh?) It is meant to be a happy time to share memories of loved ones that have passed.
Families who celebrate set up alters, or ofrendas, in their homes to honor the deceased. They then place some of the deceased family member’s favorite things on the alter — food, drinks, and any other items that the family member enjoyed while they were alive. It is also traditional to put sugar skulls and marigold flowers on the alter.
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After they have decorated their homes, the families then go to the cemetery for a celebration. They have a huge feast and spend time cleaning the tombstones and honoring their family members who have passed.
So, What’s Up With the Scary Skeleton Faces for Day of the Dead?
OK, I will admit that some of the painted faces can be a little . . . jarring. However, there is a reason that people celebrating wear painted skeleton faces and also why they decorate with painted skeletons.
In the past, painted faces, costumes, and dances were used to “scare away the dead” at the end of the Dia de los Muertos celebration. However, it has evolved into painting your face to celebrate something about a loved one or simply as a way to express yourself during the celebration.
Day of the Dead Lesson Plans, Activities, Ideas and Facts
There are so many interesting ways to incorporate Day of the Dead into your learning. Check these out:
Day of the Dead Crafts, Activities, and Lesson Plans
• Make TRADITIONAL MEXICAN PAPEL PICADO, which are the decorative papers and streamers
• Make a SUGAR SKULL COLLAGE
• Learn about traditional Day of the Dead food
• Make Day of the Dead Ornaments
• Spend a couple of weeks with a Day of the Dead study unit
• Have fun with this Day of the Dead Educational Activity Guide
• Do a free mini art lesson
Dia de los Muertos Colors
According to AZ Central, the colors during Dia de los Muertos have very specific meanings:
Yellow – Represents the sun and unity, because under the sun, we’re all the same.
White – Using this color in decorations represents spirit, hope and purity.
Red – Represents blood and life.
Purple – For this holiday, purple represents mourning, grief and suffering.
Pink – The bubbly color signifies happiness.
Kid Friendly Day of the Dead Videos
Here’s a good (kid-friendly) video that explains Day of the Dead:
I also thought this was a cute short film, but you may want to watch it beforehand because some kids (especially little ones) may find it sad or scary:
Paint Your Face for Day of the Dead
You can paint your face, or take turns painting each other’s face, for your Day of the Dead celebrations. This Day of the Dead face paint kit makes the painting super easy! There are also cool Day of the Dead face tattoos that you can put on just for the day!
Make Sugar Skulls
Sugar skulls, or calavera, are candy skulls that are created to resemble the deceased. They are a traditional treat during the Day of the Dead celebrations. Making sugar skulls is a fun hands-on addition to your Day of the Dead lessons. Just grab a skull candy mold before you get started!
Day of the Dead Children’s Books
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