Parents, grandparents, children and their teachers in costumes either for Halloween or traditional Dia De Los Muertos celebrations were all gathered at the main outdoor staging area at Summit Charter Academy Mathew Campus on Thursday, October 31. They were watching Kindergarten through 6th grade students dressed in Halloween costumes, solemnly and reverently pass by a Dia De Los Muertos altar, with some students a picture of a loved one, other students putting flowers, or food offerings, some with candles for the altar.
Some of the children and adults were v Merisibly moved, and students or teachers hugged them.
Principal Lilli Shimer spoke to parents and students throughout the celebration honoring departed loved ones and said to the crowd, “Thank you students for all your
contributions,” at the altar.
This weekend is the traditional celebration for Dia De Los Muertos, in Central and South America, as well as the United States. It’s a mixture of both indigenous beliefs and Christian, and is a Celebration of Life honoring the dearly departed with offerings of food, flowers, candles and includes pictures of loved ones on an altar. In other cultures offerings are left at loved ones graves.
From the CNN website, Dia De Los Muertos is described as a holiday to celebrate the lives of friends, family members and even celebrities who have died by building a tribute altar.
The colorful multi-level memorials are built in homes, schools and public places as a tribute to deceased loved ones. The different levels represent the underworld, Earth and heaven.
A large photo of the deceased is usually placed at the top of the altar with papel picado. Sugar skulls, candles, pan de muerto (dead man’s bread) and Mexican marigolds are featured throughout the altar.
The pungent scent and bright color of fresh marigold petals are meant to guide the spirits to their altars, and glasses of water are handy to quench the thirst of the dead after their long journey.
The ofrendas (offerings), as the altars are called, are carefully assembled using many traditional elements, but each of them is unique on its own. They can be personalized with the dead person’s favorite food, mementos from their lives and their favorite items. Some altars have books, jewelry, music and clothes on display.
Other Dia De Los Muertos celebrations are being held at various schools, both Burton School District and Porterville School District or in the City of Porterville.
Speaking after the ceremony and celebration was over Shimer said, “It was a very emotional celebration for many of the students. And we are very grateful to all the parents who came to support us in the Dia De Los Muertos celebration.
One of the goals of our dual immersion program is to teach children about different cultures and their celebrations.
“Some of the students haven’t lost loved ones yet,” said Elizabeth Madrid, 4th grade teacher, “but they showed so much compassion towards the students who have gone through loss. It was amazing to see how they comforted one another and bonded with each other.”
Comision Honorifica Mexicana Americana will hold its Dia De Los Muertos Celebration today, beginning at 5 p.m. At the CHMA Community Center, 466 East Putnam.
Admission is free. There will be a Danza Azteca Ceremony and a photo booth. There will be plates with tamales, Pan De Muertos and Champurrado for $10 and $5 for children.
There will also be an Ola Raza art exhibit. The event will be full of fun, food, culture and entertainment.