Day of the Dead Celebrations: 5 Ways To Include Kids
Celebrating Day of the Dead with Kids
Fall is here and the opportunities to create family memories coincide with the dipping thermometer and global fall festivals. From Harvest Festivals to Oktoberfest, every weekend is full of fun family events. Day of the Dead or Dia De Los Muertos is just one of those Fall festivals we create our family legacy with. (Do you remember Alina’s fun Calacas face paint last year on Day of the Dead?) Though the name suggests this festival may not be child-friendly, I’ve learned otherwise. Day of the Dead is about fun, family and celebrating the legacies of ancestors. My children loved all the color and pageantry of Day of the Dead (Vegas blog readers might remember when we celebrated Mexican Day of the Dead at Springs Preserve) and I’m sure yours will as well.
I wasn’t always sure we’d celebrate Day of the Dead; I’m Latino, but the imagery always made me a bit nervous. However, I learned that Mexican Day of the Dead is all about family legacy and heritage. And so, as we continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, here are a few reasons that you should consider celebrating Day of the Dead with your children, too.
1. Day of the Dead Culture – Day of the Dead in Mexico is quite an elaborate event. People plan their altars months in advance. But Mexico is not the only place where Dia De Los Muertos is celebrated. In Bolivia it’s traditional to fly kites, where as in other parts of Latin America and Europe it is simply a day to visit the gravesite of deceased relatives. We all have relatives who we wish our children got to know and this day can be a wonderful time to celebrate their lives by telling stories and lighting candles to their memories.
2. Day of the Dead Food – To celebrate the holiday in a more traditional Mexican style, prepare the favorite meals of a deceased relative. I grew up on many kinds of food, but when we make these recipes, we always think of certain people. For an American twist to your traditional family favorites, try Ground Turkey Rolled Tacos or Black Bean Tostadas and Mexican Hot Chocolate.
3. Day of the Dead Decorations – Day of the Dead equates to colorful decorations, like the easy traditional paper flower. Each flower has symbolism and the cempasuchil, or marigold in English, is known as the flower of the dead. It’s also the most popular paper flower to make for a Day of the Dead garland. Or try this Day of the Dead Papel Picado craft. Our Mexican paper flower tutorial will help you create beautiful paper flowers for any occasion, including Noche Buena celebrations.]
4. Day of the Dead Crafts – Dia De Los Muertos in Mexico legacy is based in part on calaveras and pan de muerto (literal translation: bread of the dead). These iconic traditions often give parents pause, as even I get kind of creeped out thinking of dead bread. However, the sugar skulls (calaveras) are decorated in a jovial manner, using royal icing to create flowers, bows and hearts. The traditional egg bread, which is the basis for Pan d los Muertos, is twisted into bone shape and dusted with sugar. To wash it all down, enjoy an Atole, a traditional drink. Alina and I created these calacas or Sugar skull coloring pages that your little ones can enjoy too. The above DIY Floral Crown is also an easy Day of the Dead Craft to do with kids. Day of the Dead is filled with traditional crafts that you can enjoy with your kids while learning about the holiday.
5. Day of the Dead Learning – Celebrating Day of the Dead is a great idea to teach your children about new cultures and traditions. Day of the Dead is celebrated everywhere where Catholicism has taken root since it coincides directly with All Souls Day. The Smithsonian Latino Center’s fantastic interactive website is a place where homeschoolers can learn about the Day of the Dead to learn more about the symbolism, food culture, and even design your own virtual Altar.