Colorful “calaveras,” or decorative human skulls, adorned a hallway in Masters Hall from October 31 through November 2, as students in the Upper School learned about el “Día de Muertos,” or Day of the Dead, a Mexican, Central American and Caribbean national holiday to remember the dead.
Although its description might sound morbid, the day is a celebration of death, a natural part of the human cycle. The holiday tradition goes back more than 3,000 years, before the arrival of the Spanish in the Americas.
Upper school Spanish teachers Cristina Da Costa and Roberto Mercedes spoke about the celebration at Morning Meeting on Friday, November 1. Da Costa and fellow Spanish teacher Rebeca Bataller decorated the altar, or “ofrenda,” in front of the A to Z board with photos, candles, flowers and the favorite dishes of those they wished to remember.
Students visited the altar and discussed its meaning; community members were also invited to place a picture, flower or special object as a remembrance of ancestors and loved ones who have passed.
Da Costa and Mercedes explained that their department wanted students to deeply consider life and death, and consider the ways that other cultures understand this concept. They noted that there is no sadness or suffering associated with the holiday, rather, it is a celebration to support those who have passed on in their spiritual journey.