For children to understand all the aspects that comprise the tradition of the Day of the Dead (a holiday of great importance in Mexico) it is necessary to start talking about its origins. The Day of the Dead is a celebration that dates back to pre-Hispanic times.
Its origin dates back to before the arrival of the Spaniards, who had a single conception of death, unlike them, the natives thought that the dead took different paths, depending on the cause for which they died; in general they had a vision where death was the cause of worship and praise.
By joining the Catholic religion taught by the Spanish, with the beliefs of indigenous peoples, a unique perception of death was created in Mexico! full of elements and symbolisms that to date persist as part of the cultural identity of Mexico. So we can explain the tradition of the Day of the Dead to children.
The Day of the Dead is one of the most representative festivities of Mexican culture, declared intangible cultural heritage according to UNESCO, this celebration takes place on November 1 and 2 of each year. November 1 is the day when dead children are remembered and November 2 is the day of the adult dead.
To explain the tradition of the Day of the Dead to children, you can tell your little one that during these days families often go to the pantheons to decorate the graves with flowers and offerings of the already deceased. In the houses it is customary to place altars of the dead, so that during these days the souls return from the afterlife and visit their families.
In schools, children may also be asked for offerings to build altars generally dedicated to famous people from the world of art, film, television, literature, among others, all with the aim of remembering their feats and the mark they left behind. go through this world. This invites the little ones to reflect on the theme of death, remember their ancestors and their teachings, as well as value life and teach them to enjoy their day to day life to the fullest.
If in your house you usually place an altar for the dead, do not forget to remind the little ones of its meaning and the reason why this tribute to the deceased is placed. The idea of the altar of the dead is to have a place where loved ones who have passed away are remembered, with the aim of helping them achieve eternal rest. In it, things that the deceased liked such as food or personal items are placed; it also contains elements that come from ancient traditions, which have a specific meaning.
- Altar levels
Each level represents the "worlds" that the deceased must go through to get his eternal rest. If the altar has two levels these represent heaven and earth, if it is three they represent heaven, purgatory and the underworld, and if it is 7 they represent the levels of the underworld.
- Altar elements
The flame they produce signifies hope and is used to guide the deceased to the altar. In some indigenous communities each candle represents a deceased, so depending on the number of candles that the altar has, the souls that the family will receive.
This one comes from pre-Hispanic times where it was used to praise the ancient gods. It is currently used for the purification of space and to achieve a pleasant environment for the deceased.
It represents the entrance to the world of the dead and is generally decorated with flowers and fruits.
The typical flowers of the Day of the Dead give color and joy to the altar, adorn and aromatize the place. The most common are the wallflower, the cloud and the cempasuchil flower.
Saucers that were to the liking of the deceased are placed.
- Personal items
On the earthly levels the belongings and objects most dear and appreciated by the deceased are usually placed.
It is customary to place the photo of the deceased at the top of the altar, right in the middle of it.
- Christian elements
Being Mexico a religious country, elements belonging to Catholicism such as crosses, images and rosaries are also included.
- Natural elements
Wind, water, fire, and earth are represented on the altar in one way or another.
- The salt
It is an element of purification, it will help the deceased in his round trip for the following year.
They remind us to accept death as inevitable and as part of life itself.
Many times It can be difficult to clarify the concept of death to children. To do this, you can tell them about their ancestors, their great-grandparents or great-great-grandparents, show them photos of them, and above all pay them a tribute to remember their time in life, through the tradition of the Day of the Dead.
Remind them that this day is not a cause for sadnessOn the contrary, it is a joyous date because we are remembering loved ones. These are days that are filled with color, celebration and tradition, to share with the family. Especially for the little ones it can be a very attractive party, for its delicious food, such as the bread of the dead, for fun toys in the shape of skulls, as well as chocolate and marzipan sweets in the shape of skeletons typical of these dates.
For all that and much more, the day of the dead is a popular festival of great significance and ideal for children to appreciate the culture and tradition of this celebration. It is certainly a ritual that privilege memory over oblivion, and through this vision the children will be able to obtain a different way of remembering the beings they have loved very much and who are no longer with us.
Why do we have to die one day? Where do we go when we disappear? How to talk to children about something we do not know? Death, like any other topic, should be the subject of conversation with children, from when we speak to them in simple language appropriate to their age. It does not have to be an in-depth, detailed talk. We must be clear and answer only your doubts.
Children are aware of everything that happens around them, everything can affect them. Therefore, it is very important to protect them, explaining some issues such as death. There is nothing like understanding and being well informed to avoid bad drinks. We tell you some ideas for it:
- Always speak the truth to children, with sincerity. Don't fool them
- Answer your questions without going too deep into the subject
- Really listen to them, not just hear them. Respect and understand what they say
- Show empathy. There is nothing better than putting yourself in their shoes to understand their feelings
- Give them explanations that also come from the heart. It is best to give them short and easy to understand explanations
- Give them answers in language appropriate for the child's age
- Observe if the child understood the explanation and do not leave him with doubts
- Take advantage of occasions such as the Day of the Dead, All Saints' Day, Halloween, to talk about death to children
- Make use of literature so that children understand better. There are stories, poems, fables, legends, that portray death in a very simple, child-oriented way.
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