Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead is becoming more and more prominent. The Mexican tradition is even said to be the “Newest Holiday in the U.S.A.” …Did you know it can also be a Family Friendly Holiday?! A lot of people just see the skeletons and lump it with Halloween.
It truly is more then that. Less tricks, more treats, though not all of the candy variety. Though, the timing it is close to Halloween, (Midnight Oct, 31st-Nov. 2nd) it actually is less to do with “ghouls” and more with history.
This beautiful Mexican Holiday, can give your family a chance to talk about family history or a chance for your child to open up about this side of life. Its a great way to celebrate the past or just expand their knowledge of another’s culture. Dia de los Muertos is colorful! It can be fun! And, it can just serve as a great way to honor and remember. No matter which way you decide to try out this “Day of the Dead” it will be uplifting! There is a lot to do with your little ones if you want to, especially in San Diego. We are lucky to be a border town.
Here’s Some Fun Ideas:
- Go Explore Our Local History and see the sights of Dia de los Muertos-
- Make an Altar “Ofrenda” at Home with Ancestors or Family Pets
- Make/Decorate Sugar Skulls
- “Day of the Dead Activity Book” by Karl Jones, Steve Simpson (Friends have used this one in a classroom setting.)
- “Pan de Muerto” or Mexican Sweet Breads
- Champurrado (My Personal FAVORITE), though you may just get Mexican or regular hot chocolate
- An anything covered in “Mole”…it’s a sauce. 😉
- Rice Pudding? (Forgive me friends, that one is your call, but I’m gonna be honest an admit I have never cared for it.)
- Family Time at Home-
- Movie Night with “Book of Life”
- Story Time! “Dia de Los Muertos” by Roseanne Greenfield Thong (Though there are plenty you can find, both my kid & myself enjoyed this one. It even had Spanish terms mixed in.)
- Garden! Plant & Harvest Marigolds. The holiday’s flower, though they get tough to find some places in the US during November.
A bit of our backstory: My kid was starting to have a rough time with the struggle of life and death. In a few short years she had lost a Grandpa and then our family dog. She was only in first grade and we had no idea this dialog was playing in her head. It wasn’t until they were learning about this Mexican tradition in school that I knew she felt the need to share more about Grandpa. She wasn’t alone, a lot of the kids were opening up to the class with fun and loving stories of passed family members. It was a beautiful thing to see.
I found that Dia de los Muertos gave us all an extra chance to pause. It allowed for genuine conversation and remembrance. Not to dwell on the dead, but a chance for us to speak a little more openly with our kiddo. We got to remember in more detail their favorites and their wonderful personalities. It was a time to make it colorful in our home and take out old images, welcoming memories of them to come back.
Old Town gave us space to do something that she hadn’t done at home. They have altars set up that allow you to add a lost loved one. She was happy to be creative and have the memory of our dog, Otis, drawn along side other local families’ loved ones. In the Old Town’s cemetery it even had a spot to add a family members’ name. Their whole event just gave her a breath of respect, even to those family members or local historic members she never got a chance to meet.
I understand some just see it as something tied to Halloween or just write it off as too scary for their kiddos, but it really doesn’t have to be! It can be something quite beautiful. The tradition and purpose is to show those memories, that they are still loved and never forgotten. The symbolism is to welcome family back for a visit and to think they are close and with us still if only for a few nights. I understand some may think “who wants to invite dead into their home?” Really it isn’t a scary ghostly factor. I think of it as a time to have our guardian angels closer. Dios de los Muertos is really to welcome our ancestors. We celebrate them and the memory of them, through their favorite food or toys. A time to share in love and memories.
Do you celebrate Dia De Los Muertos in your home?