The month of November is special to middle school teacher, Deveny Loera, because of Dia de los Muertos. Dia de los Muertos is a day to honor loved ones in the afterlife and it is used as a day to remember and feel closer to those who have passed away.
On Dia de los Muertos, Loera’s family takes time out of their day to gather at their loved ones’ graves and celebrate their life. They share their stories, and bond, and try their best to “welcome them back” on this special day.
“The few people I get to honor on this day are my great grandfather Joaquin, Grandfather Alberto, and a very good friend of mine named Maritza,” said Loera.
Loera said something her family has taught her to do for Dia de los Muertos is to set up an ofrenda. An ofrenda is an offering placed in someone’s home intended to welcome the deceased to the altar
“We place photos of our loved ones with their favorite foods and personal items throughout the last few days of October till November 2nd. We light candles and place water with a side of salt. We also place Marigold flowers and make a path with petals,” said Loera.
Loera has carried this tradition into her classroom and sets up an ofrenda for her class.
“I set up an ofrenda in my classroom to give students a look into some of their cultures or learn about a new one. I wanted to give them an opportunity to honor someone they love and share their story,” said Loera.
Loera said this does not only teach students about something very big and important in Mexican culture but teaches students that death can be a beautiful thing too.
“I personally believe teaching students about Dia de los Muertos can help expand their minds. It will teach them to respect and how to honor someone else’s beliefs and traditions. They also learn the history and how traditions come from such a long path,” Loera said.
Loera’s students got the chance to bring in personal belongings and pictures of loved ones they wanted to honor. They made “Papel Picado” and Marigolds out of paper to decorate around the ofrenda. They were also given a sugar skull to color and learned what they represent.
Andrea Meza, a student, said Dia de los Muertos to her means a lot because that is the day she gets to remember her family who passed away.
“I get together with my family and we remember the people who passed away. I don’t visit anyone at the cemetery because all my family that has passed is buried in Mexico,” said Meza.
Sofia Ariz, another student, said this day means a lot to her because she gets to celebrate her grandma Bertha and her tia Marisa who have passed away.
“On Dia de los Muertos we have a family get-together and have the little kids dress in suits and dresses and we take a lot of pictures and eat tamales and posole. A tradition we do every year is sing and pray and watch movies,” said Ariz.
Sergio Millan, a student, said that this day is special to him because he makes pan de muerto with his mother and they take it to the cemetery.
“I visit my grandpa from my dad’s side and our tradition is to make food and put out food for my grandpa at the cemetery,” said Millan.
Franco Gonzales, a student, said he likes this day because he gets to remember his uncle who passed away.
“I help my mom set up an ofrenda at my house and we put pictures of my uncle. My whole family gets together and we put flowers and we take turns talking about him and how much we loved him,” said Gonzales.