We’re pleased to announce the launch of our Multicultural Committee! This parent group will be celebrating the international makeup of our school by:
- Organizing multicultural events for the school community, like performing arts shows, film screenings and culinary showcases.
- Enhancing multicultural learning in the classroom through activities and lessons focused on international traditions, holidays and heritage.
- Raising awareness of multicultural events taking place in Chicago.
The committee is already hard at work. Here’s what they’ve planned for two upcoming holidays, Diwali and Day of the Dead.
Diwali (India) – Sunday, October 30
Sparkle, sweets and celebration. These are the hallmarks of a Diwali celebration, one of the biggest festivals of India. In Sanskrit, Diwali means “row of lights”. It's celebrated over five days and observed by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. Diwali celebrations vary by faith and region of India, but the common thread is the victory of light over dark and good over evil.
For many, Diwali celebrates the legend of the prince of Ayodhya, Lord Rama. He was exiled with his wife, Sita, to the forest for 14 years by his father. During Rama’s exile, a demon king abducted Sita. But Rama came to Sita’s rescue and triumphantly returned to Ayodhya. The people of Ayodhya celebrated Rama’s homecoming by illuminating their homes with lamps, setting off fireworks and decorating the city with gusto. Diwali also honors Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, and lanterns are lit to guide her into people's homes. Today, Lord Rama’s return is celebrated with lights, fireworks and merriment.
How We're Celebrating Diwali
Students will be learning more about Diwali in class over the coming days. In Nursery and Reception, children recently enjoyed a special visit from a parent who talked about Diwali and showed them diyas (candles). Primary School children will also be decorating greeting cards adorned with Rangoli. Rangoli is an Indian art form, popular during festivals, in which patterns are created on the floor with flower petals, dry flour, colored sand and other materials. In Secondary School, students will be creating their own Rangoli, taking part in Bollywood dance, crafting paper laterns, diving into the history of India and the British Empire, and studying renowned Indian writers and scientists.
Day of the Dead (Mexico) – November 1 & 2
Celebrated in Mexico and by people of Mexican ancestry living in other places, Day of the Dead involves family gatherings to revere the life of friends and family members who have passed. Initially, the celebration took place at the start of summer. Following Spanish colonization in the 16th century, Day of the Dead was gradually associated with late October and early November to coincide with the Western tradition of All Saints’ Eve. The rituals are varied and colorful. Many people set up altars in their home and decorate them with flowers, candles and vibrantly decorated skulls. Others decorate the graves of their loved ones. There are also festivals with dancing and sweets. Ultimately, the aim is to celebrate life and enjoy and appreciate every moment.
Ways to Celebrate Day of the Dead
Museum of Mexican Art
In Chicago, we’re lucky to be steps away from the Museum of Mexican Art, which is the first Mexican cultural center/museum in the Midwest and the largest in the nation. Our students studying Spanish often visit the museum for field trips, and with Day of the Dead around the corner, we encourage you to check it out, too. Here’s how the museum is celebrating:
#30 Dia De Los Muertos: Journey of the Soul
The museum’s annual Day of the Dead exhibition explores the ancestral rituals involved in honoring deceased loved ones. In celebration of the 30th annual Day of the Dead exhibition in Chicago, Journey of the Soul showcases the indigenous roots and rituals involved in the spiritual tradition. People of all ages are invited to browse popular art and fine art by more than 50 Mexican artists.
Day of the Dead Chicago Festival
Hosted by the Museum of Mexican Art, this outdoor community celebration in Harrison Park invites families to learn and celebrate! There will be Pan De Muerto (Day of the Dead Bread), altar demonstrations, live performances, face painting, art activities and much more.
After visiting the museum, stop by Mago Grill restaurant, located by school in the Roosevelt Collection. There’s a Day of the Dead celebration, featuring special giveaways and a Mariachi band on Friday, October 28.
Our parents have also recommended delving into these books about Mexican culture:
- Posada, Printmaker to the Mexican People: Art Institute of Chicago, 1944
- Rituals of Rule, Rituals of Resistance: Public Celebrations and Popular Culture in Mexico: Beezley, Willian H., et. Al., 1994
Also, be sure to check out the photos above! Students in Year 7 Spanish created their own beautiful skulls to celebrate Day of the Dead.