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  • Celebrating the Day of the Dead in Georgia

    Korey Gotoo, an artist born in Mexico, and Lisabet Sanchez, who lives in Cumming, with her mother Amalia, discuss the special altars they prepare for The Day of the Dead, a cultural expression of Mexican heritage. Many people join in the Day of the Dead celebration at Atlanta’s Mexican Cultural Center on November 1–2.

    Support Materials

    Discuss

    1. Why do Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead?

    2. In what ways is the El Dia de los Muertos celebration similar to our ways of honoring the dead?

    3. Why are traditions important to some people and cultures? 

    Expansion

    1. Invite someone in the Mexican or Hispanic community (perhaps the parent of one of your students or the ESOL teacher) to come talk to your class about this and other customs of their community and in their culture. Ask them to teach the class some Spanish words or sentences. If they have authentic recipes or foods, ask for these or have the class make them and bring them in to try.

    2. Research other customs and holidays that are part of the culture of other ethnic groups represented in your school or community (Russian, Croatian, Serbian, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, etc.). Have a day to present these cultures along with the foods and dress of these cultures. If possible, find the percentage of those in these cultures who are represented in your school or community. This research could also be presented in the form of a PowerPoint presentation or by having a representative of the community come and talk to the class.

    3. Every culture has its own special traditions. Your teacher should lead a class discussion of Day of the Dead activities shown in this Georgia Story. Give reasons why the holiday would be a reassuring time for families.

    Vocabulary

    altar: a consecrated place, set aside from other places, where sacrifices and other sacred rites are performed or where sacred relics are displayed
    Day of the Dead: (in spanish, el Dia de los Muertos) a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and other places like the United States where families and friends gather to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died
    companion: a person or animal with whom one spends a lot of time or with whom one travels.
    sugar skull: (in spanish, la calavera) a decorative or edible skull made (usually by hand) from either sugar or clay

    For Teachers

    Discussion Guide

     1. Why do Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead?
    Children in the Mexican culture are taught early that death is a companion and not to fear it. They laugh and have fun. They are taught to have great respect for the dead.

    2. In what ways is the El Dia de los Muertos celebration similar to our ways of honoring the dead?
    The "day of the dead" is held at the same time our Halloween is celebrated. November 1st is celebrated as All Saints Day in our country - mainly in our churches. It is a day for remembering our loved ones who have passed away. This is the same as the celebration of El Dia de lost Muertos. Candles are lit during our All Saints Day as a remembrance of the life they lived while they were with us. In addition, flowers are placed on graves to honor our dead as are flowers put on the altars by those who celebrate El Dia de los Muertos. There could be some sharing between your students of Hispanic origin and American students about the ways each celebrates these particular holidays.

    3. Why are traditions important to some people and cultures?
    Traditions represent a critical piece of one's culture. Often, they help form the structure and foundation of our families and society. They remind us that we are part of a history that defines our past, shapes who we are today and who we are likely to become. 

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