Students celebrate Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos


Courtesy of Ms. Mary Beth Hardone

Juniors Emily and Ryan Schieber help run the mask making table for the Day of the Dead festivities.

Autumn Moon, Staff Writer

On Nov. 1, the Foreign Language Honor Society organized festivities in the lobby to celebrate the Mexican Day of the Dead, or  Dia de los Muertos.

Day of the Dead celebrations originated approximately four thousand years ago, when the Aztecs began holding a festival every year celebrating the death of their loved ones, while also paying tribute to Mictecacihuatl, goddess of the Underworld.  Ingrained in the Aztec’s beliefs was the idea that the dead would rather be celebrated than mourned, so they began an annual celebration which first honored the children who had died, and later the adults.  Over the centuries, older traditions mixed with newer ones to create the modern Day of the Dead.  It is believed that on Oct. 31 at midnight, the gates of heaven are opened and the  angelitos, the spirits of children who have passed away, are allowed to visit their families for one day.  The following day, the spirits of the adults get their turn, and they come down to enjoy the festivities prepared for them by their families and friends.

The event was organized by the advisors of the Foreign Language Honor Society, Ms.  Carol Ferrante and Ms.  Jeanmarie Doherty.  They organized and planned the festivities, ensuring that students could have fun while learning more about Dia de los Muertos.

“A lot of the kids are really interested in cultural aspects from different countries, and it just blended so nicely with the fact that Halloween was coming up,” said Ms.  Ferrante.  “It was a great opportunity for us to do something cultural that the kids could partake in to have fun and learn, as opposed to just constantly doing fundraisers.”

Although the Day of the Dead originated in Mexico, it is now celebrated all around the world.  This year, Schreiber adopted the holiday as well.  Many students joined in with the festivities and got to learn more about the holiday.

“It was cool because some people who participated in the events at school were also actually celebrating at home,” said sophomore Emma Levin.  “I thought it was very interesting to see how the holiday was actually different from Halloween.”

Students participated in activities in the main lobby, which took place during 4-1 and 4-2, people were able to stop in to decorate skull-shaped magnets, get skull tattoos, or get their faces painted with skulls or flowers.

“I decorated a skull and magnet, and I saw that people were even giving out themed tattoos,” said sophomore Brittany Polevikov.  “There was a banner where people could write messages to loved ones who passed away, similar to the authentic Mexican altars.”

The goal of the Day of the Dead festivities was to get students to learn more about a holiday that they might not have known much about before.

“It was really nice to see so many people so interested in learning about a culture different than their own,” said sophomore Joe Clark.

Students who celebrate the holiday at home were also able to contribute their own experiences to the festivities at school.

“There was actually an ESL student who just came from Mexico, and it’s his holiday, so he was super excited to see us celebrate it,” said Ms.  Doherty.  “I think it was pretty nice for students like him who are coming in from another countries to see that we are educating everyone about not just American holidays, but their holidays as well.  It makes them feel like their culture is important too, which is great.”