By Ali Kochik
Social Media Editor
Although skulls and skeletons are quite popular around this time of year, in Holly Briese’s Spanish class, they represent something much more.
Typically, people would associate these symbolizes with Halloween night. However, another is culture preparing for a special night as well. In Mexico, many people are anticipating Dia de los Muertos, or The Day of the Dead, on Nov. 1.
“Day of the Dead is about celebrating the lives of family members who have passed on.” Head of the language department, Mrs. Briese said. “It’s a way of continuing the family bond.”
Much as she does every year, this October, she is helping the students at Red Lion Area Senior High School learn about this cultural day of celebration in a fun, hands-on way.
Once her class has the knowledge as to what Dia de los Muertos is all about, the fun can begin. Spanish one classes are able to color and design one of the most prominent symbols of The Day of the Dead: sugar skull masks, which are often made to represent the departed souls. These masks are full of bright colors, exhibiting the contrast between the sadness of death and the happiness and vibrancy of the celebration.
“We have a variety of masks that the students can choose which one appeals to them most and then they color them,” Mrs. Briese said, “and some teachers hang them up and students can vote on which one they think is the best colored one.”
Similar to the masks, Spanish two students get to design and color their own skeletons to represent death as being the great equalizer.
“The Spanish two students will be actually making skeletons,” Mrs. Briese said, “where they will work in a group and then they have the entire skeleton to decorate and do something with it.”
Much like the people who celebrate Halloween use pumpkins, bats and witches as symbols, people in Mexico use skulls and skeletons. They put these symbols on decorations and treats and incorporate them in many other Day of the Dead festivities.
Mrs. Briese sees the sparks of creativity and deep cultural interest coming from her students while they are learning about Dia de los Muertos and the way death is celebrated in Mexico, particularly on this day.
“We don’t do anything like this in the United States and sometimes in the United States we don’t know, if someone has passed on, if we should share it because it might make someone upset,” she said, “but in Mexico, you know you should absolutely share that story because you want to keep their memory alive and you want to still hold them dear in your hearts.”
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