Wheaton Montessori News
This week, our Elementary Classroom has a vibrant colorful ofrenda in honor of Dia de los Muertos. Upper Elementary student Mia and her mother Isabel spent a morning last week setting up the ofrenda and sharing their family history with the class. Isabel explained to the students that Dia de los Muertos typically honors young children who passed away on the first day of the celebration, older relatives and friends on the second, and in Mexico, family pets on a third day. This ofrenda honors classroom pets from years gone by.
Mia and her mother Isabel are placing fresh marigolds on the ofrenda. Isabel explained to the Elementary students that the vibrant colors signify a new life for the spirits of those being remembered. Also included are colorful sugar skulls, bright banners, and vivid figurines to decorate the ofrenda.
Special breads and sweets are added to the altar to keep the spirit from being hungry on the their long journey. A special bread, pan des los muertos, is a traditional offering. Incense is burned to purify the air. Many of the decorations on the ofrenda were made by Mia and her mother.
Buno, pictured above, was the beloved class rabbit that died two years ago. His favorite toy (the Kong) is included on the ofrenda. Isabel shared with the students that the deceased favorite foods, toys, beverages and even articles of clothing are added to the ofrenda to represent the person or pet being honored.
In the picture below, we can see a glass of water to keep the spirits from getting thirsty during his or her journey in the afterlife. Isabel shared that these items: food, water, and favorite creature comforts are to help ensure that the spirit is well-fed and comfortable in the spirit life.
Candles, lanterns, and lights guide the spirit and are lit (in this case by battery-powered school-safe votives!) to guide the soul “on.”
Tikka, the school’s Bernese Mountain Dog, is also honored on the ofrenda, as well as a goat from the village where Ms. Searcy lived during her years of service with the Peace Corps in Nepal. This offered a nice moment for the older students to remember that Tikka’s favorite toy was… food!
Students who stay for the School Day in our Primary classrooms visited the Elementary Class, where Mia and her friend Lucie gave a short presentation on the traditions of the day, the cultural significance to Mia and her family, and to learn a little bit about how another culture celebrates their friends and family members.