No matter who we are, we all come into contact with death. People around the world have their own traditions to mourn and celebrate the loss of loved ones. Americans celebrate Halloween as a spooky day with monsters and creatures. Other celebrations of the dead around the world are quite different. Books are a great way to learn about other cultures and here are five of our favorites to learn about Festivals of the Dead around the world. Do you want to learn more about the History of Halloween and other Festivals of the Dead? Check out our Halloween Unboxed downloadable lesson!
Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead by Judy Goldman and Rene King Moreno. From Goodreads: “A family celebrates Día de Muertos, a holiday for remembering those who have passed. When the monarch butterflies return to her Mexican countryside, Lupita knows that Día de Muertos, “the Day of the Dead,” is near. She and her favorite uncle watch the butterflies flutter in the trees. When a butterfly lands on Lupita’s hand, her uncle reminds her that she should never hurt a monarch because they are believed to be the souls of the departed. Lupita and her family get ready for the holiday. When the first of November arrives, the family will go to the cemetery to honor the memories of their loved ones. But this year is different—Lupita’s uncle cannot join them. Now, Lupita learns the true meaning of the celebration.”
Why We Celebrate Halloween: A Short History: Seeking the hidden roots and symbols of a Celtic harvest festival in the modern day fun (Origins of Modern Festivals for Kids Book 1). From Goodreads – “There are so many interesting and unanswered questions about Halloween: Why do we celebrate Halloween? Why do we go trick or treating? Why do we dress up in scary costumes? Why do we get candy on Halloween? Have you ever wondered how Halloween got started? Was it invented by candy sellers? It might seem strange to you now, but the celebration of Halloween goes back hundreds of years, to a time when people’s lives were deeply connected to the land, the food it produced, and the changing of the seasons. In essence, Halloween started as a celebration of the Earth’s bounty, and as preparation for the coming dark days of winter. Read to see where all the modern traditions associated with Halloween came from and how they changed over the centuries to become the holiday we love and celebrate today.
The Story of the Obon Festival: Obon Festival (Buddhist Traditions Childrens Books Book 2) by Rev. Kanjin Cederman. From Amazon – “The story of a little girl and her experience of the Obon Festival in Japan. Together with her family they learn the many traditions associated with this holiday and the deep meanings of each. This book is designed for both children and adults. The series is to demonstrate and explain the many differnt Buddhist holidays that are held in Japan. Through the interesting story of the young girls experience, we can have the the proper experience to then be able to understand how to celebrate them in our own lives and families.”
The Remembering Day / El Dia de Los Muertos by Pat Mora. From Goodreads- “Long ago in what would come to be called Mexico, as Mama Alma and her granddaughter, Bella, recall happy times while walking in the garden they have tended together since Bella was a baby, Mama Alma asks that after she is gone her family remember her on one special day each year. Includes facts about The Remembering Day, El dia de los muertos
Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh. From Goodreads “A picture book biography of José Guadalupe (Lupe) Posada (1852–1913). In a country that was not known for freedom of speech, he first drew political cartoons, much to the amusement of the local population but not the politicians. He continued to draw cartoons throughout much of his life, but he is best known today for his calavera drawings. They have become synonymous with Mexico’s Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival. Juxtaposing his own art with that of Lupe’s, author Duncan Tonatiuh brings to light the remarkable life and work of a man whose art is beloved by many but whose name has remained in obscurity.”
At HistoryUnboxed® we love using books to learn about history and cultural traditions. Do you have any favorite books about Festivals of the Dead? Share them below!