The Day of The Dead (El Día de los Muertos) Festival in Mexico is celebrated on the 1st and 2nd of November each year. On these dates people remember their loved ones who have passed away. Sound a bit morbid? Well it’s not at all. Tombstones are decorated with yellow flowers, candles and photos. A special kind of bread called “Pan de Muertos” is baked on this day also and children eat “sugar skull” sweets. Music is played and the cementaries come to life with sounds of laughter and chatter and the aroma of freshly baked bread. It is a celebration of peoples lives.
People believe that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them.
It’s commercialization over the years has taken this festival to the USA and now the UK although it has changed slightly. Here in England there are Day of the Dead parades in Birmingham, London, Manchester and Liverpool, where people dress-up and take take to the streets.
The Monarch Butterfly
While I was researching The Day of the Dead for the book I wrote with Jdue Lennon I discovered that the magnifient Monarch butterfly arrives in Mexico on the 1st and 2nd of November after making it’s long migration journey from America. Flying hundreds of miles and above the clouds, they arrive in their thousands.
I really enjoy teaching The Day of The Dead in my Spanish classes. Here are some of the resources I use:
Sugar Skulls – Click HERE for a nice simple recipie from education.com to make your own.
Pan de Muertos recipie – The website Art is Fun have a great kid-friendly recipie available to download.
Video – This is a short animated film on You Tube about the Day of the Dead
Am I Nearly There Yet? – This is a lovely bilingual picture book about the Day of the Dead Festival and the Monarch butterflys migratory journey. (affiliate link)
The Book of Life – This is a lovely film featuring the festival and the journey of Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart. Before choosing which path to follow, he embarks on an incredible adventure that spans three fantastical worlds where he must face his greatest fears. (affiliate link).
Monarch Butterfly video– Stunning short video, narrated by Meryl Streep showing just how spectacular the Monarch butterfly is.