Spanish classes celebrate Día de Los Muertos


Students put the finishing touches on their ofrendas in Sra. Parker’s classroom (photo by Luke McLendon).

Luke McLendon, Editor

As early as 6:45 Friday morning, students flooded Homewood High School’s language hall, carting supplies to craft unique ofrendas for Día de Los Muertos.

Día de Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is a holiday celebrated by many Hispanic cultures. Occurring from Nov. 1st and 2nd each year, this tradition honors the dead through elaborate festivals, events, and ofrendas.

Ofrendas are a Mexican Day of the Dead custom in which families and friends make altars to honor deceased loved ones and provide offerings for their spirits to enjoy in the afterlife.

Millie Kate McBride stands next to her ofrenda (photo by Luke McLendon).

Constructing ofrendas is no small task; they take time and thoughtful reflection. Roughly a week prior to the holiday, students in Spanish two, three, and AP classes begin researching their chosen Hispanic figure and planning the photographs, personal items, and foods to include in their projects. Among these items is Pan de Muerto, a traditional sugary bread, which is commonly displayed on ofrendas.

Spanish three and AP students in particular are known for taking their ofrendas a step further, filling teacher Marta Parker’s classroom with vibrant colors. 

“I’m super impressed every year with the time and care they put into these,” Parker remarks, expressing her awe at how early students come in to start building their ofrendas.

AP Spanish student Millie Kate McBride chose Rafael Trujillo, a former president of the Dominican Republic, out of interest in learning about international politics. McBride’s ofrenda included a photograph of Trujillo in his presidential garb, a small goat figurine symbolizing his nickname as “El Chivo” or “The Goat,” and of course, Pan de Muerto. Despite learning of Trujillo’s various atrocities in her research, McBride was still able to make a lovely ofrenda in his honor.

Maren Smith stands with her ofrenda for Salvador Dalí (photo by Luke McLendon).

Current Spanish three student Maren Smith chose Spanish artist Salvador Dalí for her ofrenda. Included on her display: a portrait photograph, various painting materials, lush flowers, and seafood seasoning, Dalí’s favorite cuisine. A dancer, Smith says she chose Dalí due to her interest in set designs influenced by Dalí’s signature surrealism style.The commitment to these ofrendas is clear to any who walks through the language hall on this celebratory Friday. For those looking to continue the celebration, Bare Hands Inc. will host the annual Día de Los Muertos Festival starting Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2022, from 4 to 10 p.m. at Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark in Birmingham.