West Asheville’s Rainbow Mountain Children’s School will celebrate the Day of the Dead, or El Dia de los Muertos, on Friday, Nov. 2. The holiday is celebrated by people throughout Latin and South American cultures, but the practice actually began with the Aztecs. According to tradition, the spirits of loved ones visit and celebrate with the living during this special time. Much as they had done in Northern Europe, the Christian settlers merged the holiday with All Hallows Eve (or Halloween) and All Saints Day.
Rainbow parent Joe Walsh told Xpress, “The high-spirited celebration affirms that death is not an end, but rather a new stage of life into which the soul passes.”
In the days leading up to El Dia de los Muertos, families prepare colorful altars with photos of loved ones, candles, flowers, favorite foods and drink or offrendas, while carved wooden skeletons or calacas are done up in native costumes.
Walsh said: “At Rainbow Mountain, students and families use this day to honor loved ones who have passed away, while remembering that their spirits are always with us in our hearts. In preparation for this festival, students have been making traditional masks and crafts with the school’s Spanish teacher Daniztha Baker, who is a native of Peru. Children will bring in photos of their loved ones to place on a community altar. The festival will culminate with a colorful and musical parade through West Asheville.”
He added: “The parade will start at roughly 11 a.m. with the entire school marching from the lower parking lot onto State Street up past the new condos and SunnyPoint, turning right onto Haywood Road at Pro Bikes and returning to school through the Haywood Road entrance.”
Rainbow Mountain Children’s School is located at 574 Haywood Rd. For more information contact Carole Smith at 258-9264 ext. 21.
— Cecil Bothwell, staff writer