Day of the Dead
By Ally Kampel
Spanish family and friends head to cemeteries and gather around and pray for the souls of their loved ones. This celebration is called Day of the Dead and is celebrated generally in Mexico, on November 1st and 2nd. The goal of the families is to have the souls and spirits of their past loved ones visit so the souls will hear the prayers of the family. These celebrations may take a humorous note for many of the families because they tend to share past comical stories about the departed.
The Spanish Club is bringing this Mexican tradition to Seton once again. Following the tradition in Mexico, the club decorated the Spanish hallway on the second floor with an altar. Kendall Cappel, the president of the Spanish club, states her appreciation for the club’s hard work. Cappel states, “The participation from the Spanish Club members was overwhelming and each Spanish class had the opportunity to contribute with decorations.” The altars, at the in the cemeteries in Mexico, are very detailed and symbolic. Traditionally, there are seven different layers, or sections of the altar. The first section is a picture of saint, the second section is for the souls in purgatory, and the third section is where salt is placed for the children in purgatory. The fourth section contains the pan de muerto, the bread of the dead, and the fifth section contains food and fruit that was preferred by the deceased. The sixth section would contain a picture of the departed loved one, and finally, on the seventh section, a cross of a rosary made from limes is placed. Generally, there are many ornaments placed around the altar. Chains of purple and yellow paper decorate the altar and symbolize the union of life and death. These decorations bring color and life to the altar. Multicolored flowers flourish around the altar as well and have several meanings. The white flowers represent heaven, yellow flowers are for the earth, and purple flowers represent death and mourning. Candles surrounding the altar represent the ascension of the spirit. A white cloth symbolizes heaven and purity, and incense represents the passing from life to death. Corn and fruit are also place around the altar symbolizing harvest and the offering nature provides. Sugar skulls, mounds of colorful sugar in the shape of skulls which made by the families, are also placed around the altar. A path of marigolds, whose fragrance are meant to attract the spirits, line a path to the altar. The families wait and enjoy companionship of the other families in the cemetery for the spirit of their loved ones to enjoy the offerings. These traditions vary greatly from our celebration of All Souls Day.
The Spanish club enriches Seton’s diversity of cultures by bringing these traditions into Seton. “The Day of the Dead is a great way for the Spanish Club to recognize and remember our loved ones who have passed,” Cappel states, “and also promotes the fascinating culture other countries celebrate to our school.” Cappel’s enthusiasm is expressed in the wonderful altar and decorations the Spanish club created to show our school Mexican culture.