El Dia de los Muertos

Our 2014 Day of the Dead celebrations have been noted in the SCILT Summer 2015 newsletter, with an article written by our own Mr Pegard. SCILT is Scotland’s national centre for languages.

To see the newsletter, Link to SCILT, and click on Summer 2015.

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Day of the Dead 2014

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Report by Mrs Macfadyen and Mr Pegard

2nd year pupils celebrated the Mexican festival, Day of the Dead, last week with an afternoon of activities and competitions. It has been a highly motivational and very succesful topic for both pupils and teachers and many pupils comment on the fact that it was their “best day in school ever!”

During the couple of weeks prior to the day, all the departments involved ran a series of lessons linking the topic. The Art department focused on the practical skills required to make skulls out of clay, lino printing and papel picado flags which were used to decorate the hall. Pupils also learned about some famous Mexican artists such as Frida Kahlo.

In R.E. pupils learned about the religious aspect of the celebration, reflecting on the way Mexicans honour their Dead with a happy celebration whereas the European Catholic feasts of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ day is a more mournful approach.

In Mexico, Dia de los Muertos is a party and celebration to remember loved ones who have already died. Pupils created a beautiful ofreda or altar with their RE classes, making it the centrepiece of the Kamwokya Room. The altar traditionally holds items close to the memory of a loved one, and pupils brought along some beautiful items to celebrate the memories of late family and friends. It was very touching to see some of the beautiful artefacts pupils brought in and the topic allows them to share some of the special feelings they have for someone whom they have lost in a supportive and sensitive celebration. The altar also showed off the skulls created in the Art Department.

In the Modern Languages classes, the preparatory lessons aimed at making pupils aware of the differences in traditions between Mexico and here in Europe.  After an introductory video on the celebration, pupils conducted online research comparing El Dia de los Muertos with Halloween. We then learned and practiced the ‘Hail Mary’ prayer in Spanish.

The celebrations began with prayers in Spanish before pupils took part in a competition to create the best decorated cakes, and designed hats for Catrina, the skeleton which is the Mexican symbol of Day of the Dead.

With mariachi music playing in the background throughout, the final activity of the day was a quiz covering Day of the Dead and Hallowe’en celebrations in Scotland, Mexico and around the world created by Librarian, Mrs Macfadyen. Thanks to all of the staff involved from Art, Modern Languages, RE and the Library; to all of the other staff who came along to help out on the day, including our classroom assistants; to the staff who judged the winning teams; to the 6th year Caritas pupils who helped throughout the event, and to all of 2nd year for making it such a great afternoon.

El Dia de los Muertos

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Our Lady’s celebrated 1st November in two very different ways this year. In the morning, the school celebrated mass for All Saints Day. In the afternoon, all S2 pupils marked the Mexican festival of the Day of the Dead, arranged jointly by staff from Art, the Library, Modern Languages and Religious Education.

Day of the Dead is a happy occasion when people remember those they have lost, almost like a big family party, so pupils brought in pictures and mementos of people that they had lost and would like to honour, whether family members, friends, or someone special to them. These were placed on the special ofrenda, or altar, which was decorated with bright, cheerfully decorated crosses and colourful clay skulls created by the pupils themselves.

The afternoon started with prayers in Spanish, then pupils got started decorating cakes with sweets and more skulls, using fondant icing this time. As the symbol of death in Mexico is a skeleton wearing fancy clothes (named Catrina), the next task was to decorate a hat for her, using scraps of material and found objects. The last activity of the afternoon was a quiz focusing on Day of the Dead ceremonies and our own Hallowe’en customs. The festivities ended with prizes being awarded to teams who created the best hats and the best collection of cakes.

Many thanks to all of the departments involved, to the pupils for their enthusiasm, to the 6th year Caritas pupils for supporting the 2nd years, to Mrs Sinclair, Mr Krawczyk and Mrs Zambonini for judging, to the Home Economics staff for the emergency icing and to all the staff who came along to help out.

Special thanks to the lunatics who planned it all out: Mr Pegard, Ms Steinert, Mr Shields, Miss McGinness and Mrs Macfadyen.