In my sophomore year of high school in Spanish, I created an ofrenda for Día de Muertos/Day of the Dead. This day is used to celebrate those who have died. Not to morn, not to grieve, but to celebrate their lives and their impact upon oneself.
In Mexico, this holiday is actually a week long celebration with a different event each day. Treats are sold, costumes are made, flowers are prepared to be put on graves. One of the greatest traditions, however, is creating an ofrenda. These are memorials created to honor a person who has died. My class was tasked with creating an ofrenda for a famous person who was an inspiration for us.
The famous person who I chose as my inspiration was Theodor Seuss Geisel, or Doctor Seuss. A significant part of the ofrenda was to research our person to represent and celebrate that person. I collected quite a few articles on Mr. Geisel and found out more about his life, both the positives and negatives. Ofrendas are not about presenting a negative image of who you want to celebrate, nor are they about presenting a fake image of the person. They are not about facts, but showing why you admire this person and why they are worth celebrating. It is subjective, but in one of the better ways.
The grade I was given (due to my hard work and actual presentation of my ofrenda) was a four out of four. My teacher, Senora Didas, commented: “Tu poster fue perfecto! Tu presentacion en Espanol fue maravillosa! Yo estoy muy orgullosa de ti!” I am, in fact, very proud of my work on this project. It helped me understand a holiday that not many Americans learn about or grossly oversimplify. With all the Day of the Dead sections in halloween stores, there is no true understanding. This project did motivate me to help people understand Hispanic cultures better, due to the racism that is inherent to cultural appropriation and fearing of what we do not understand.