Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

Feliz Dia De Los Muertos!  

Our family is bicultural and bilingual.  My husband is originally from Mexico City and we try to carry on some traditions from the Mexican culture.  Dia De Los Muertos on Nov 1st and 2nd  is one of our favorites.  The kids enjoy the crafts and decorations that we do every year and I really like that the holiday gives us a chance to explore death in a very un-scary way.

This year we attended the event at the Seattle Center.  We experienced face painting, puppet making, 
Cempasuchitl crafting, calavera painting and sculpting and great musical entertainment and dancing. I really recommend you check out an event if you have one in your area. 

Another fantastic resource is  Monica homeschools her children and is teaching them bilingually and biculturally.  Click here for a Dia De Los Muertos mobile we really enjoyed crafting.

Also, we had a great time putting together a Emiliano Zapata skeleton puppet provided to the public by the Burke museum at the University of Washington. You can download your copy here.

My favorite Dia de los Muertos book is a new one we checked out from our local library. Its called The Dead Family Diaz  by P.J. Bracegirdle. In the book, the skeleton family is preparing to come to our world for Dia De Los Muertos. The skeleton children tell "scary" stories about living people much like we scare with skeletons. On arrival, The skeleton boy gets lost in the crowds and meets a boy who he thinks is a skeleton as well. When they realize they are not the same they both get scared but in the end become friends. It's a fun book about tolerance and seeing our similarities and is a different way to look at the dead. My kids really enjoyed it.

Finally, I like to share with you a tutorial for making Cempasuchitl (semp-a-soo-chill) or Marigold flowers.

Cempasuchitl paper flowers

First, gather materials.  I got the thin floral wire, floral tape and yellow paper streamers at the dollar store.  You will also need craft scissors and wire cutters. 

Cut a 12" length of floral wire.

Fold a 2"-3" section of crepe paper streamers back and forth about 20 times.

Starting at the end make very narrow cuts leaving the top uncut.  Don't cut all the way through to the edge! If you are doing this with kids its easier to make the cuts a bit wider and leave more uncut at the top.

Unravel your streamer. You should have 1 long streamer with lots of cuts.

Start at one end, weave your floral wire back and forth through the part you left uncut.  Kids might need some help with this part, it will be a bit easier if they leave more uncut at the top to work with. 

Finish weaving all the way through the streamer

Bring the end of your floral wire around in a U shape and wrap the short end around the long end creating a circle.

Finish your flower by covering the wrapped wire end with floral tape. Arrange and fluff up your flower.

A perfect edition to your family Dia De Los Muertos ofrenda (altar)!

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