What is the Day of the Dead?

Children's Book for the Day of the DeadWhat is the Day of the Dead?

If they’ve never heard of it before, most people can’t help but ask what is the Day of the Dead when they hear this intriguing name. Though recognized throughout Latin America, the Dia de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead) is mostly celebrated in Mexico where it originated, says the National Geographic.

According to the article “Day of the Dead – November 2nd,” this holiday is really about a celebration of life. It’s believed that on October 31st at the strike of midnight, the gates of heaven open up, and the spirits of deceased children (angelitos), who have passed, connect with their families for 24 hours. Then on November 2nd, which is considered the actual day of the holiday, the spirits of deceased adult family members pay a visit to enjoy the celebration, states the website of the cool name “Mexican Sugar Skull.” Kids dance with caricatures of death, eat skull molds made with sugar, learn about the transitory circle of life and are taught to not fear death, says the article.

An altar is prepared with lots of food and beverages for the weary spirits. Candies and toys are offered to the angelitos, and on November 2nd, shots of mescal, an alcoholic beverage, and cigarettes are offered to the adult spirits, adds the website.

In certain parts of Mexico, on November 2nd, the festivities take to the cemetery where families reminisce about their dearly departed, listen to the village band, play cards and clean tombs, the website states. During this special time of year, it’s believed that happy spirits offer wisdom, good luck and protection, it says.

There are some terrific books that help teach Hispanic children about this unique celebration. Maria de Flor is a bilingual book about the day of the dead. You can see the book and a video on the Lectura Books website.

The Latino Family Literacy Project, a family outreach program that educates and assists families in improving the literacy efforts of ESL kids—and sometimes parents, too—by establishing an at-home reading routine, recommends adding books to the family library like the Day of the Dead and other Hispanic holidays. Teachers can attend a one-day, program training at a workshop near them or via an online webinar.