by V Formers Erica Christensen, Camille Banson, and Brittany Andrea
The AP Spanish Language class was recently assigned a project for the Day of the Dead. The Day of the Dead is an important holiday in Latin American culture, celebrated on November 2nd. During the holiday, Latin Americans remember and honor their lost loved ones. In their culture, the dead are kept in their memories and made an integral part of their lives. While such familiarity with the dead is contradictory to what we learn as children in the United States, the study of Spanish culture helps to improve our knowledge of the Spanish language. The students were assigned to make and dedicate a traditional Hispanic altar to someone close to them that had died. They were given a list of items that are considered “traditional” when creating their altars. These included purple and yellow paper chains, water, mums, decorated skulls, elaborately cut paper, candles, and religious elements. They were also encouraged to include things that their person liked to do, places they liked to go, and food they liked to eat. A written component was also included, which could be completed by writing a letter or poem about the person.
ERICA (far right in photo):
My altar (picture at the top of the article) was dedicated to my grandfather, Robert Mathieu. He passed away six years ago, just before the Red Sox had the chance to win the World Series. The father of my mother and eleven other children, he always had a smile, a joke, and his Red Sox cap readily on hand. His love for both his family and the Red Sox ran deep. Some of his other favorite things were Coca- Cola, which was the one thing he wanted during the end of his hospital stay, and his religion. I represented these things in my altar, along with various traditional objects like the paper chain, water, and candles. I also included corn to represent the harvest, salt for purification, a cross and kneeling Virgin Mary for religion, and intricately cut colored paper to represent the joy of living. A couple of photographs showed my grandfather when he was young, taken during the time he served in World War II, and my grandfather and me when I was eight. In the latter, he is wearing his characteristic Red Sox cap and smiling his quintessential smile. He is missed by every member of my family; I especially hold his love and quick wit in my memory and heart.
Ha estado seis años que has muerto. Todos de la familia te echan de menos mucho. Estarías feliz para saber que Las Medias Rojas ha ganado los Series del Mundo otra vez. Deseo que estuvieras aquí conmigo para verla, con botellas de Coca- Cola. Sé qué mi madre te echa de menos mucho también, y esperamos que poderemos verte en el futuro.
CAMILLE (middle of photo):
The altar I made is dedicated to my nana, Lourdes Banson, who passed away recently at the age of 87. I incorporated elements that are commonly seen in Latin American countries to celebrate the Day of the Dead. From the top, a chain of purple and yellow paper hangs down to represent the close link between the dead and the living. The candles in the right back corner of the altar represent the light that guides the dead to ascension. The bar of soap and towel allow the spirit to wash its hands after the long journey. Also, I added more personal elements to the altar. I pasted photos of soap operas playing on a television since watching those was her favorite pastime, shopping bags since she enjoyed the fresh feel of new clothes, and chemical solutions since she was a chemistry professor. I wrote a poem about the memories we shared when I would visit her in the Philippines for my written component. My nana is the most generous and gentle woman I know and her values will continue to resonate through my actions.
¿Recuerdas cuando yo era niña,
cuando yo te visitaría,
o el tiempo cuando viajamos
por avión, autobús y por carros?
¿Recuerdas cuando veíamos telenovelas
mientras comiendo la cena
o cuando me trajiste a un mercado
y compramos unos postres variados?
Siempre te recordaré
por tu ánimo generoso y tu fe
por tu sonrisa inolvidable
y tu personalidad sociable
Nunca olvidaré tu estilo de modo
Y tu paciencia abundante con todos,
Tu leche flan y pescado famoso
Y tu ánimo cariñoso
Nosotros te extrañamos muchos
Pero yo sé que tú no estás lejos
Tú siempre quedarás en mi corazón
Y te conmemoraremos en celebración
BRITTANY (far left in photo):
I chose to dedicate my altar to my great-grandmother, Adeline Gentile. She died last December at the age of 98. I made sure to include several crosses and a rosary, which was hers. The water is there for her journey into a new life. I printed out old photos that show her alone, with her husband, and with me. I included several traditional elements such as the purple and yellow chain to represent the connection between the living and the dead and punched paper of a dove and flowers. We used to have brunch at Cabot’s a lot, especially when I was little, and she used to love listening to her husband play the piano. While she was in the hospital, she couldn’t stop saying how happy she was that the whole family was there together. She is the kindest woman I have ever met, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to learn and aspire to be like my nana.
Te extraño tanto. Has traído tanta alegría a mi vida. Usted era la persona más agradable que he conocido, porque fuiste tan cariñoso y dulce. Usted ha tocado las vidas de toda las personas supieras. Me encantaba ir al restaurante de Cabot con usted y comer el desayuno. También me encantaba cuando usted haría una comida casera para mi familia cuando nos vinieron a visitar. Gracias por enseñarme acerca de a religión, es una fuerte conexión que tengo con usted ahora.
Erica Christensen, V Form, is from Westborough, MA, and she is in Burnett House. She enjoys cold weather, CrossFit, crew, and hockey.
Camille Banson is a day student from Hopkinton and is in the V Form. She enjoys traveling, writing, and listening to music.
Brittany Andrea is a V Former from Framingham, and she lives in Thayer. She was a technology intern at St. Mark’s over the summer. She plays soccer and likes to write.