For many parents in America, talking about death and
dying is a difficult subject. But the Mexican Day of the Dead
the National Museum of Mexican Art can help families explore
the subject in a healthy, less fearful way.
"For indigenous cultures, death was not seen as a
sad moment, but as a passageway to where we're supposed to be,"
says Phillip Jiménez, vice president of the museum. "That's the
root of why it's such a healthy way of processing this transition
because it's not to be feared; you're going to a better
The Day of the Dead is Nov. 1-2, when Mexicans
believe the souls of the dead are allowed to return for the day to
their families. In preparation, families prepare ofrendas or altars
that celebrate that person's life.
"It's an offering to those spirits who are arriving
and who are visiting us," says Cesáreo Moreno, chief curator at the
museum. "When the souls arrive in Mexico, the families put out
these offerings. It's a spiritual altar with photos of the
deceased, images and icons of religious and spiritual characters,
often decorated with flowers, food, maybe cigarettes or a little
This year's exhibit, which runs Sept. 13-Dec. 15,
will include many ofrendas from various parts of Mexico. Classes
will be held for families to create their own ofrendas, as well as
sugar skulls, another Day of the Dead tradition.
Moreno recommends parents visit the museum's
website to see the variety of art classes offered. "We work with
children and adults to create miniature ofrendas and it is
explained in a way that children and family can understand," Moreno
says. "In these classes, death is brought up in such a normal way.
I honestly believe a lot of these classes take a little bit of the
scariness out of the inevitable."
Mexican Museum of Art
1852 W. 19th St., Chicago
Admission is always free. Some classes charge a
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