Students at Saint Patrick Catholic School honor our dearly departed in November. November is know as month of the Holy Souls in the Catholic Church. Celebrations ranged from Day of the Dead festivities in the classroom to a field trip to the Tacoma Art Museum to see the finished altar created by middle school Spanish class students in honor of a beloved teacher.

Dia de los Muertos

Dia de Muertos (or Dia de los Muertos) is a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico around the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed (All Souls) on November 2nd. It is a time of remembrance of and prayer for deceased loved ones. The observance of the Day of the Dead has both religious and cultural aspects.

The Day of the Dead as we know it today is a result of the combination of Mesoamerican traditions with the Christian understanding of remembering the faithful departed. A key part of this celebration is the preparation of an Altar de Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead altar). In Mexico, Day of the Dead altars are found in homes, churches, public places, and in cemeteries.

An ofrenda (the Spanish word for “offering”) is a collection of objects placed on a ritual display during the annual and traditionally Mexican Día de Muertos celebration. An ofrenda, which may be quite large and elaborate, is usually created for an individual person who has died and is intended to welcome him/her to the altar setting.

Ultimately, the Day of the Dead is a celebration of life! We remember deceased loved ones and tell stories of the lives they lived among us. And, together with the whole Church, we pray that they may enter into eternal life with Christ.

Images of Death and Dia de muertos

Images of death are abundant in Day of the Dead altars. These images recall deceased loved ones but also invite us to look on death without fear, knowing that death leads to eternal life. Calaveras de azucar, sugar skulls, are a typical feature. These brightly colored images, on which the name of a deceased loved one is often written, represent the “sweetness” of the deceased person. Images like “La Calavera Catrina” (the familiar skeletal figure dressed in finery) act as reminders that all of us, rich and poor alike, will one day die.

View the photos below to see the beautiful ways students honored friends and family who have passed away.