Día de los Muertos will take place this year on Thursday 2 November. The Mexican celebrations developed from ancient traditions among their pre-Columbian cultures. Rituals celebrating the deaths of ancestors had been observed by these civilizations for up to 2,500–3,000 years. The festival that developed into the modern Day of the Dead used to fall in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, around the beginning of August, and was celebrated for an entire month. The festivities were dedicated to the goddess known as the ‘Lady of the Dead’, corresponding to the modern La Calavera Catrina.
Most regions of Mexico, by the late 20th century had developed practices to honour dead children and infants on November 1, and to honour deceased adults on November 2. November 1 is generally referred to as Día de los Inocentes (‘Day of the Innocents’) but also as Día de los Angelitos (‘Day of the Little Angels’); November 2 is referred to as Día de los Muertos or Día de los Difuntos (‘Day of the Dead’).
Abi Sales, primary teacher who has previously taught in Mexico experienced ‘Día de los Muertos’ and says, “every classroom/ family has an alter which is a table decorated with marigolds and miniature versions of everything the dead person you knew liked, so for my grandpa I had mini beers and football memorabilia, alongside a picture of the dead person. It is believed that the dead come back to visit on that night and are warmly welcomed back to their families. People have huge parties and they hang paper flags called papel picado. One year in school we studied the artist José Guadalupe Posado who is famous for drawing la Catrina.”
Please have a browse of the websites below for a range of Día de los Muertos activities or resources which can be used in school.
- Mask making
- Lesson plans
- Day of the Dead educational pack
- Photos and facts from the National Geographic Society
- Photos taken in Mexico
- ALL’s Pinterest board
- Cheap classroom resources can also be bought here
- Animated short film of ‘Día de los Muertos’
Share your story and let us know how you have celebrated, via twitter @ALL4language or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org