Nicaragua has a holiday similar to Halloween. Los Dias de los Muertos, the Days of the Dead, is a traditional Central American and Mexican holiday honoring the dead. It is celebrated every year at the same time as Halloween and the Christian holy days of All Saints Day and All Souls Day (November 1st and 2nd). Los Dias de los Muertos is not a sad time, but instead a time of remembering and rejoicing.
In the homes families arrange ofrendas or "altars" with flowers, bread, fruit and candy. Pictures of the deceased family members are added. In the late afternoon, special all night burning candles are lit - it is time to remember the departed - the old ones, their parents and grandparents.
The next day the families travel to the cemetery. They arrive with hoes, picks and shovels. They also carry flowers, candles, blankets, and picnic baskets. They have come to clean the graves of their loved ones. The grave sites are weeded and the dirt raked smooth. The crypts are scrubbed and swept. Colorful flowers, bread, fruit and candles are placed on the graves. Some bring guitars and radios to listen to. Some families will spend the entire night in the cemeteries.
The celebration of Los Dias de los Muertos, like the customs of Halloween, evolved with the influences of the Celtics, the Romans, and the Christian holy days of All Saints Day and All Souls Day but with added influences from the Aztec people of Mexico.
In coordination with Amy Bushnell's studio Centro de Arte, Puedo Leer helped the children of the library prepare for the Day of the Dead. Fourteen children gathered at the art center with the older ones making papier-mache masks and the younger ones making the calacas (skeletons). Ruth and Argentina from the library along with Eduardo and Amy from the art center helped coordinate the activities.
See the attached pictures.