The Day of the Dead, Día de Muertos, is a Mexican holiday celebrated on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2. The holiday is the Mexican celebration of the cycle of life and death. It is said that on Nov. 1 (All Saints Day), adult spirits will come to visit; on Nov. 2 (All Souls Day), families visit relatives’ graves and decorate them.
Middle and upper school Spanish classes decorated the Archer Gallery with small altars, tissue paper flowers, known as cempazuchitl, sugar skulls and various other Day of the Dead traditions.
Spanish teacher Talia Geffen said that the altars “focus on the lives of these people and animals, as the holiday is a happy one meant to honor and remember.” The classes created an ofrenda, or offering wall, where they invite members of the community to write a poem, memory, or wish “dedicated to those that have passed.”
The Archer tradition allows students to learn about their deceased family members and friends that they may have not known before. Geffen says, “Students come in saying ‘I just learned that my grandmother’s favorite food was Starbursts!’ Or ‘Look: my great-grandfather and I have the same face!”‘
One Los Angeles tradition for Day of the Dead is celebrating at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, which took place this year on Nov. 2 for the last 12 hours of Day of the Dead. The celebration included music performances, costume contests for the best Calaca, and altars set up by guests of the celebration. The Hollywood Forever Cemetery also holds altar competitions.
On the topic of Archer and the Hollywood Forever Cemetery altar competitions, Geffen said, “While [she] likes the idea of showcasing Archer students’ creativity, [she] also loves the intimacy of our community altar and would be opposed to sacrificing this special tradition.”
Featured Image: Part of the Archer Día de Muertos altar. Photographer: Haley Jamieson ’16