Not Halloween: An Introduction to Dia de los Muertos

by Teresa Narey

Introduction and Background:

In the U.S., the end of October is traditionally marked by the celebration of Halloween. In greater America, however, another holiday emphasizing fun, food, and costumes calls attention to the passing of time. Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is celebrated in Mexico and throughout Latin America on November 1 and 2, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, respectively (click here for help pronouncing Spanish words). On the surface, Dia de los Muertos and Halloween appear to have much in common, but a closer look at customs tells us otherwise.

The purpose of Dia de los Muertos is to honor the memories of deceased loved ones by having parties, displaying their favorite items in ofrendas (altars), and participating in activities they once enjoyed. Celebrations highlight the idea that our ancestors are still with us in spirit. Acknowledging Dia de los Muertos in your setting provides children with a multicultural experience that extends autumn’s greatest lesson—the circle of life.

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Halloween Guide

Tips for celebrating Halloween, plus alternate ideas for Fall celebrations!

by Judy Mullican

halloween-pumpkinsBelieve it or not, it’s time for Halloween again! I shared some thoughts on this last year, but here is an update with some new recipes and ideas! Some programs include Halloween and others don’t. How do you decide?

The first thing to do is consider your own feelings. You may have strong feelings one way or the other about the holiday. If it’s not a holiday you feel comfortable celebrating, consider whether there are ways you can let the children have fun without the parts of Halloween that make you uncomfortable. On the other hand, Halloween may be your favorite holiday, and you may be bursting with ideas for activities! Before you get started, you may find it helpful to talk to the children’s families. Some families may have a religious objection to holidays in general, and others may object to the emphasis on ghosts, goblins, and witches. Still other families may be making big plans for parties, trick-or-treating, and other celebrations, and be counting on you to join the fun! Look for common ground so your plans are fun for everyone.

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Handling Halloween

by Judy Mullican

How do you feel about Halloween? Love it or hate it, it’s just around the corner. What’s the best way to address the holiday in a child care setting? The first thing to do is to talk to the children’s families. Some families may have a religious objection to holidays in general, and others may object to the emphasis on ghosts, goblins, and witches. Still other families may be making big plans for parties, trick-or-treating, and other celebrations and be counting on you to join the fun!

If you find that a traditional celebration is going to be a problem for some of the families you serve, you may want to consider some alternate activities. Here are some possibilities:

  • Fall Festival: Plan an event with games that celebrate the season. Toss beanbags into a hollow pumpkin and make garlands of fall leaves.
  • Favorite Character Dress-up Day: Invite children to dress as their favorite storybook characters. If you work in a church setting, you might ask the children to dress as their favorite Bible characters.
  • 942695_10152733952305450_8210164652534647792_nHat Parade: Invite children to wear their favorite hats and march around the neighborhood. They could use hats they created as part of their FunShine activities earlier in October or wear their favorite hats from home.
  • Backwards Day: Invite everyone to wear their clothes backwards. Eat dessert first! Plan other fun backwards activities.

If you decide to have a Halloween celebration, here are a few tips:

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