“No es tiempo de llorar. Es tiempo para celebrar,” translated Ms. Zuniga said, “It is not a time for sadness but a time to celebrate.” Ms Zuniga, an AP Spanish Language Teacher started out her class in reference to the Day of the Dead celebration, Nov 1.
While many American children, as well as other countries that have now adopted the Halloween festivities, were knocking from house to house in search of the richest candies, several other families were in preparation of the Day of the Dead.
“No coopera para mi calavera?” roughly translated to “Will you donate to my skull?”
Zuniga reminisced back to when she was a young child living in Mexico. During the Day of the Dead, she walked around the streets of Mexico with her sister asking for some money with a picture of a skull in a box in hopes to collect donations from her neighbors.
Along with her adventures in collecting money instead of candy, she spoke of her experience with her aunt as she prepared the altar for the dead. The altar was essentially a place to highlight the deceased. Cempasuchitl, or flor de la muerte, (flower of the dead, named after its smell of dead flesh) is one of the most common flower decorations used in the altar. It was believed that these flowers helped guide the souls of the dead into the home and seek their proper altar. Along with the flowers, el pan de muerto (bread of the dead) is also an essential detail included in the altar. Differing between the creativity and religion of others, some families could buy the candy skulls, candles of different saints, or even host Rosemarie’s prayers.
Through the people’s beliefs they were to present the deceased’s favorite food and leave it out nice and prepared for the night. It was believed that the soul of the deceased would come during the time that everyone was all asleep when they would arrive at the house and enjoy their prepared altar.
The next day, when the soul of the deceased had had its chance to enjoy another meal on Earth, the food was then eaten by its family. The bread, especially made for the occasion, could also then be shared to neighbors and family members because the bread is too big for a single household to eat.
Being able to emphasize the traditions of an individual gives a chance to the person to highlight their culture in a new and creative way. Ms Zuniga, spoke of her heritage without difficulties and embraced the background in which she had for a long time grown up in. Whether it was a chance to collect money or a chance to see the altar of the deceased come into effect, Ms Zuniga witnessed it all for the Day of the Dead and continues to honor her family members that are no longer full of life.
Just as Zuniga said walking into her seventh period classroom, “It is not a time of sadness, it is a time of complete celebration.”