The Latino culture has brought the U.S. many rich traditions. Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos is celebrated on November 1 and is known as All Saints Day in the Catholic church. Dia de los Muertos honors the souls of deceased relatives. Here are activities and lessons to celebrate a Day of the Dead party
Visit graves. In Mexico and other Catholic and Latino countries, families gather in cemeteries and picnic near the graves of loved ones on Dia de los Muertos. There are also Day of the Dead parades. Dia de los Muertos is similar to Memorial Day. But there is less emphasis on nationalism, patriotism and military and more on religious observance and ancestor remembrance.
Make crafts of skeletons or skulls with printables. Dia de los Muertos decorations depict skeletons and skulls, also called calaveras. But it’s not about being ghoulish like the U.S. Halloween. It’s part of the Catholic ancestor remembrance. Kids will love making skeleton crafts at an All Saints Day party, too.
Fiesta! Enjoy ethnic Latino and Mexican food: Dia de los Muertos or All Saints Day is a holy day and a feast day. Feast and fiesta come from the same word. It’s not a fast day. So party. If your Day of the Dead celebration is for a classroom, church or parish celebration, invite Hispanic families to prepare and share family recipes. Make burritos, tacos, tamales, beans and rice, churros, pupusas and Spanish rice and other Mexican recipes. Serve limeade to drink.
Make Dia de los Muertos votive candles: Lighting candles is a large part of Day of the Dead celebrations. Create your own Catholic votive candles. Give each guest one white taper, votive or pillar candle. Use permanent markers or paint pens to write loved ones’ names on the candle. Decorate with dried or silk flowers, shells, pebbles, bits of old jewelry, marbles, ribbon and fabric scraps. Make altars for All Saints Day.
Calavera skull candles. Use white pillar candles or votives. Warm wax slightly with hot damp cloth. Use plastic knives and spoons to carve eye sockets, teeth and other structural features. Outline features in black paint pen. It’s traditional to give the skeleton a jaunty look, with a kerchief, scarf, sombrero, tie or jewelry. Be sure to write the name of the deceased loved one (ones) on the candle, along with birthday and date of decease. You can also decorate votive candles in jars writing in permanent markers on the jar.
Have a Dia de los Muertos procession or parade. Catholic churches in Latino communities have processions on saints feast days and holy days. Process around the school, neighborhood or downtown. Get permission from city hall. Carry images of deceased loved ones and banners proclaiming the celebration and dress in costume. Carry lit candles (if ordinances permit) or battery-powered candles. A procession is good for an All Saints Day party too.
Sing and dance! If you are fortunate enough to have a local Mariachi band, you’re all set. If not, invite players of guitar, accordion, violin and saxophone to provide music. Visit El Mariachi for sheet music and songs to print.
Make Dia de los Muertos altars and party decorations: Arrange silk flowers, Silk roses are a favorite with Latino people because they honor the Virgen de Guadalupe. Make papel picado using free printable papel picado patterns on Pinterest String colored Christmas lights and drape bead garlands. Make memorial shrines for loved ones. Decorate with photos, memorabilia, candles and decorations. Don’t let the Dia de los Muertos emphasis on death, skulls and skeletons bother you. Day of the Dead is a reverent and comforting way to grieve and commemorate lost loved ones.