According to George Eliot, “Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them.” Honoring deceased ancestors and loved ones is a tradition in which Pioneer High School students were able to take part. Students and families at PHS had the opportunity to reflect on the cycle of life during Thursday evening’s Día de los Muertos celebration held on campus.
Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and by people of Mexican heritage elsewhere. It’s a multi-day holiday occurring Oct. 31 through Nov. 2. Though the holiday coincides with Halloween, it’s not a spooky or morbid tradition. Día de los Muertos focuses on families and positively honoring family members who have died.
In the weeks leading up to Día de los Muertos, many PHS students designed and constructed ofrendas to honor those who have died. Ofrendas, or offerings, are an essential part of a Día de los Muertos celebration. An ofrenda often includes photos of deceased loved ones, candles, flowers, favorite items of clothing, favorite foods, pan de muerto, sugar skulls and more. Jovita Cortez, a sophomore, said the experience of making an ofrenda helped her to think more about her family. Next year, she wants to make a family ofrenda at home.
Charish Creon, a junior, built an ofrenda honoring her cousin. To her, the experience was a happy one because it brought back memories. Creon was grateful “other people who didn’t know him could see what he was like.”
Celebrating Día de los Muertos and building an ofrenda helped Shania West, a sophomore, to reflect on the fragility of life. For West, it’s a reminder to “live life to the fullest.”
At Thursday evening’s celebration, guests were able to admire students’ artwork, eat panes de dulces and watch the movie “Coco.” Guests also were encouraged to play lotería and make crafts inspired by Día de los Muertos. It was a fun way to celebrate life and family and to remember the contributions of those who have died. Students and staff are looking forward to making the Día de los Muertos celebration a continuing tradition at PHS.
PHS students and staff would like to offer a special thanks to the many volunteers who helped to make the celebration a success. Thank you to Hacienda Market and Grill and Centro Market for donating pastries. Thank you, also, to local author Teri Case for visiting the PHS event and campus. Finally, a special thanks to Miriam Silis, PTA member, for all of the help with the event.