DÍa de los muertos

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Quick Overview: ¿Qué es el Día de los Muertos?

More than 500 years ago, when the Spanish Conquistadors landed in what is now Mexico, they encountered natives practicing a ritual that seemed to mock death. It was a ritual the indigenous people had been practicing at least 3,000 years. A ritual the Spaniards would try unsuccessfully to eradicate. A ritual known today as Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

Today, people wear whimsical “calacas” (skeletons) and dance in honor of their deceased relatives. The calacas are also found on altars (or ofrendas) that are dedicated to the dead. The Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations kept skulls as trophies and displayed them during the ritual. The skulls were used to symbolize death and rebirth. The skulls were used to honor the dead, whom the Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations believed came back to visit during the month long ritual.

Unlike the Spaniards, who viewed death as the end of life, the natives viewed it as the continuation of life. Instead of fearing death, they embraced it. To them, life was a dream and only in death did they become truly awake. To make the ritual more Christian, the Spaniards moved it so it coincided with All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day (Nov. 1 and 2), which is when it is celebrated today.

Today, Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and in certain parts of the United States and Central America.

Celebración del Día de los Muertos

You will be participating in the 2nd annual Día de los Muertos celebration in downtown Chula Vista. We will be working with Ms. Soler’s Spanish classes to create a community experience that educates others about the major components of Día de los Muertos and makes the celebration accessible to people of all ages.

You will have a chance to apply for one of the following departments/groups. Each department will be responsible for planning, preparing, putting together and executing different elements of the celebration.

  1. Logistics/Management

  2. Calavera Art Pieces

  3. Altar creation

  4. Sugar skull creation

  5. Calavera keepsake creation

  6. Face painting

  7. Teatro Calaca (Storytelling)

  8. Teatro Calaca (Puppet Show)

  9. Kids’ carnaval

  10. Kids’ crafts

Learning goals:

  • Students will gain an understanding of the celebratory nature behind Día de los Muertos and its importance as a fusion of Spanish and indigenous traditions in Latin America (particularly Mexico).

  • Students will transform their understanding of Día de los Muertos to teach others of various ages about its importance and relevance in Mexican (and Latin American) culture.

  • Students will use spoken and written Spanish to communicate basic information about the past.

Timeline: 7 weeks

Week 1:
Project introduction: Día de los Muertos as a celebration of life
Learning stations
Grammar: Present tense
Week 2:

Complete learning stations

Apply for desired department

Explore significance of Día de los Muertos in class

Begin Department Work
Weeks 3-6: Department work on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s
Continue Department Work

Peer critiques in departments (week 4)

Grammar: Preterite (simple past) tense

October 25th (Saturday work day at HTHCV)
Week 7:
Final preparations
Transport supplies to downtown Chula Vista
Exhibition Saturday, November 1st (Students are required to attend)

Al pasar por el panteón
me salió una calavera:
tú me tocas el tambor
y yo muevo la cadera.

Walking by a cemetery

A skeleton appeared to me:

Play the drum for me

And I will move my hips.

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