Selma Carson Home Honors Day of the Dead Celebration with Students
The Selma Carson home serves undocumented and unaccompanied boys between the ages of 13 to 17 who are in the United States, and are, or will be, going through immigration proceedings. The youth have been apprehended by state or federal law enforcement. The program focuses on reunification of the boys and their families, and education while in the home.
Selma Carson staff and residents enthusiastically celebrated the annual Day of the Dead holiday in November. This celebration is one of the most important holidays originating in México and celebrated throughout Latin America. It is an opportunity to remember and honor loved ones who have passed and invite them back to visit their families for a day. Olivia del Carmen Acosta Cardenas, Selma Carson's education supervisor, explained the history and why the holiday is so important to her students.
Olivia shared, "Both the teachers and the students worked diligently on designing the altar, which presents many meaningful elements to those who have passed. This traditional celebration has its origins in indigenous cultures dating back thousands of years. When the Spanish conquered the Aztec empire, they incorporated it to the Marian Calendar with a catholic significance. The altars are finalized on November 2nd with different ofrendas (or offerings) placed throughout the altar. The altars follow the tradition and are colorfully adorned with papel picado (intricately cut tissue paper banners) and include pictures of those that are being honored. Additionally, we include food the deceased enjoyed when they were alive, water for their spirits to drink after their journey home, incense, and of course, the traditional pan de muerto pastry made for this day. The levels of the altar represent the earth, sky, and purgatory. Altars with seven levels represent the seven deadly sins. Candles light the way to guide the spirits home as well as the abundance of marigold flowers that represent the sun and the ash, which represents the earth."
Olivia added, "This festivity has become popular around the world; especially here in the United States as it has become a topic of interest for Hollywood films like “Coco” and the “The Book of Life.” Celebrations for the Day of the Dead occur all over the country in cities with a large Mexican population. This day is especially important at Carson Home because many people on our staff are of Latin American descent as well as the population we serve. Our festivity was an opportunity to honor our roots, remember our loved ones, make our residents feel at home and teach others about our cultural practices. To celebrate the day, students, teachers and staff enjoyed delicious Mexican hot cocoa, fresh pan de muerto while the students watched the movie “Coco.”