Remembering the Ancestors
For the upcoming Día de Muertos, Day of the Dead, our 10th grade scholars created a nicho, boxes with offerings or ofrenda, an altar to honor the important people in their lives who have transitioned to the next life. Día de Muertos is not just about the dead but a celebration of continuity, as the dead is believed to have merely moved on to another existence but return to visit briefly during this celebration. Día de Muertos is primarily a Mexican holiday, but celebrated in many Latin American and non-Latin American countries.
An nicho usually contains a photo of their loved one and offerings like their favorite foods, drinks, or anything of significance to the deceased that will help to guide them to the altar that was built in their honor. This project was created for their Spanish 1 class and incorporated the cultural theme for this school year taken from our school creed: "We embody the dreams and aspirations of our ancestors."
A typical nicho should represent the four elements: fire, wind, earth, and water. "Fire usually takes the shape of a candle that guides our loved one to our ofrenda. Papel picado, a thin and colorful sheet of paper, represents wind and will move as the loved one returns. Earth will typically be food that your loved one enjoyed or the traditional pan de muerto, a pan dulce that represents death by taking the shape of bones and a tear to represent sorrow. Water can be represented by actual water or another drink that will quench the loved one’s thirst after the long journey to the living. Other important items include cempazúchitl or marigolds, copal incense, and calaveras or sugar skulls," according to Latino Outdoors.
Also, an ofrenda should be ready for loved ones by October 31st so they can find the ofrenda and then it continues to be celebrated throughout the 1st and 2nd of November.