Day of the Dead Exhibit Enchants High Schoolers

An altar in the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center features many pictures of loved ones and butterflies that represent their souls leaving the bodies of the dead.

Ava Atkinson

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El Dia de los Muertos was November 1st and 2nd. To commemorate this traditional Spanish festival, students of Mrs.Simonds’ and Mrs. Kiemele’s Spanish 5 classes traveled to the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center. While touring this museum the students learned many things about El Dia de los Muertos and the traditions associated with it.

El Dia de los Muertos can be compared to Halloween in the US, but there are some distinct differences. El Dia de los Muertos is essentially a huge party to celebrate the lives of those who have passed on. In comparison, Halloween has become a very commercialized version of this idea. Halloween is believed to have originated from a pagan festival in which the spirits of the dead are summoned back to Earth. Likewise, El Dia de los Muertos is centered around the idea that the dead return on this day. According to tradition many people make “oferendas” or altars which feature the dead’s favorite foods, among other things, because the dead would be hungry from their long trip to Earth from the afterlife.

Around this time of year the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center features an exhibit about the El Dia de los Muertos in Oaxaca, Mexico. In this exhibit the museum provides a space for locals to create altars for loved ones. This year the subjects of the altars ranged from J.R.R Tolkien to a tribute to the beloved cats from many different families.  The exhibit also featured some photos from the El Dia de los Muertos celebration in Oaxaca, Mexico as well as featuring some “alfombras” or sawdust rugs that are normally made in the streets of cities to greet the religious procession as it walks throughout the streets. These rugs also contain the symbolism that although very beautiful, nothing can last forever.

Also featured in this exhibit was “el arco de compassion” which is an arch covered in marigolds where anyone can attach a note to a loved one who has passed on. This arch represents death as an expression of birth toward another dimension. Many of the Centaurus Spanish students were impressed by the traditions and beauty associated with this celebration and the idea that we should celebrate the lives of our loved ones who have passed on.

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