El Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) is an important cultural celebration held on November 1 and 2 in many parts of Mexico and many other Central American countries. It is a day of remembrance for loved ones who have passed away. One of the traditions is to construct altars in homes, schools, and on grave sites. The altars are a tribute to their loved ones who have died. The altar is a mosaic of colour and delicious scents. Candles light the way for the souls of the departed. Cempasuchil flowers (marigolds), a symbol of the dead, are a prominent feature on an altar. Favourite foods and drinks are prepared and displayed. Treasured mementoes and photos of the departed are displayed as well.
Throughout last week, the Grade 11 Spanish class engaged in a variety of learning activities to help them explore and understand the traditions and spiritual elements of this celebration. Students worked in pairs to construct altars that honoured family members or celebrities that have been important in their lives. Upon completion, they described the elements of their altar in Spanish. They shared their learning (in English) with some grade 9 students and used the opportunity to teach them a few Spanish words. Our remote student in Germany even built an altar at home which she shared with us via Zoom!
In keeping with Mexican tradition, the students visited Lakefield's Hillside Cemetery at night. They paid respects to and laid flowers on the graves of important, deceased members of the Grove community: Mackenzie, Sheldrake, Rashleigh, Winder Smith, Ryder, Lefevre, and student Jeff Shearer '84. A new activity that was introduced this year was the making of sugar skulls which were then displayed on the altars. Their cultural learning was enriched by interviews they did with some of the Mexican students in our community and by current parent Ruth Sarquis (mother of Valentina '21 and Patrick '23) who sent them a video of her own altar in Mexico.