SWS Celebrates El Día de los Muertos
El Día de los Muertos is a special holiday for a lot of people, especially in the Latin American, Mexican, and Central American communities. Celebrated over three days, the multi-day holiday begins on October 31 (All Hallows Eve), continuing on November 1 (Día de los Inocentes, or All Saints Day), and ending November 2 (Día de los Difuntos, or All Souls Day).
An altar (ofrenda) is made by children on October 31 to invite the spirits of the dead children (angelitos, inocentes) to come back to visit their families on earth on All Saints Day. The adult spirits visit on All Souls Day, and on this last day, families attend cemeteries to decorate the graves and tombs of their ancestors.
These observations blend several traditions that include Roman Catholic and Pre-Hispanic. They mark a time when the veil between the living and the dead is easily crossed by loved ones who have departed and who now come to visit.
Forms of celebration vary, but typically an altar is set up in a home and laden with offerings to help the dead on their journey. The altar usually contains three levels representing heaven, earth, and the underworld, and can include items representing the four elements—water to quench thirst, fire in the form of candles to light the way, wind represented by incense from copal tree resin, and earth with food for sustenance on the journey.
Sugar skulls and bright orange marigolds adorn the altar as well. Nestled amidst all these offerings are pictures of the deceased, who are honored and celebrated.
Wherever and however el Día de los Muertos is celebrated, it is a time to revere and remember the deceased, to make sure they know they are never forgotten and are truly celebrated.
Here is a verse and meditation for when those departed are listening and with us in those early morning hours when the veil is the thinnest.
“I gaze upon thee
In the spiritual World
In which you thou art.
May my love mitigate thy warmth,
May my love mitigate thy cold,
May it reach out to thee and help thee
To find thy Way
At the Meadowbrook campus, led by Spanish teacher Señora Geraldine Strub, teachers guided students in grade 1 through grade 8 through the creation of an ofrenda with artwork, candles, and pictures of loved ones. Students also enjoyed a snack of Pan de Muertos (traditional sweet bread). Señora Strub is in her first year at Seattle Waldorf School, having taught previously in Waldorf schools in California. Says the Señora, “I am adjusting nicely to Seattle, enjoying teaching the children, and bringing the culture I grew up with in Mexico City.”
At the High School campus, led by Spanish teacher Maestra Clara Lippert, the students and faculty celebrated with the annual tradition of a festival, led by the senior Spanish class. Spanish classes prepared individual ofrendas for loved ones throughout the week and on Friday the Senior Spanish students led the high school community in a celebration to honor and remember those we have lost, with music, a group activity, a moment of silence, and a celebratory meal prepared by the students for the whole school.
Maestra Clara is in her eighth year at the High School and shares that Festivals are one area that the students and high school have really “grown into.” The high school now celebrates four to five festivals throughout the year: Michaelmas, Dia de los Muertos, Winter Solstice, Chinese New Year, and an End-of-Year Celebration. Festivals at the High School are led and held by the senior class.