Day of the Dead

img_0949-scaled1000In Oaxaca, the Guelaguetza Festival and all the fairs have come to an end for this year.  We have had a summer full of color, music, art and food. It is such an amazing time of year.

But coming up next in Oaxaca is the Day of the Dead!  At the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca, we will have the “Day of the Dead Course 2016”.   We are going to have a lot of special activities and celebrations, please, read on for further details.

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on November 1st and 2nd is an example of the relationship between Christianity and pre-historic traditions and is one of the most colorful and most time-honored holidays in Mexico. Although Dia de los Muertos is nationally recognized, Oaxaca has become known for its traditionally rich celebrations to honor the return of their dead.

Preparations for the Day of the Dead begin at least a week before the festival. It is believed that on the last day of October the souls of children who have passed away come to visit the altars. November 2nd is reserved for adults. It is an old belief that the dead, after their long pilgrimage from the other life, arrive on earth tired and thirsty. To nourish these souls, offerings of candles, flowers and traditional Oaxacan food is placed on the altars.

Altar de muertos del Instituto Cultural Oaxaca

Las señales que guían a nuestros difuntos.

In villages outside the city of Oaxaca, the celebration of Muertos is most commonly known as Todos Santos, or All Saints. This day is often the most celebrated day of the year. Altars, both in homes and cemeteries are honored by all. In local cemeteries you will find the graves wonderfully decorated with candles, flowers and food. During this time the living join together to rejoice the return of their ancestors. During the afternoon of November 1st many Comparsas (parades) take place, which represent and celebrate the return of the dead. Experiencing these parades and visiting cemeteries and homes enables you to enjoy the richness of this celebration and experience for yourself, the cultural importance of the festivals.

You will find that there is much to see and do in the city of Oaxaca and in the surrounding villages during the celebrations. For this reason, we offer you the opportunity to partake in a number of different tours to villages, but also encourage you to stay in the city and absorb the atmosphere. This freedom enables you to immerse yourself in the celebrations and also discover on your own the wonders this culturally rich time in Oaxaca presents.

Our Day of the Dead – Main Program, beginning on Monday, October 24th to Friday, November 4th, includes the following: 

Grammar and activity based classes from 9am – 12pm.

Instructor guided conversation classes from 12pm – 1pm.

Intercambio (a language exchange with someone from the community) in the afternoon. 

Cultural workshops from 4pm – 6pm; the workshops we offer during the Day of the Dead are seasonal and we do not offer our regular workshops during this program. You will be able to choose from a traditional mask making workshop, or a specialized Day of the Dead cooking class. 

We also host a private comparsa (parade), on Tuesday 1st, with our students, which includes a live band, mezcal, hot chocolate, and special Day of the Dead bread.

Additionally, we offer 3 tours to a number of cemeteries and celebrations in the city during the weekend of October 30th; to give students the opportunity to experience in person the number of ways that various populations in Oaxaca celebrate the Day of the Dead. 

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Viernes de Vocabulario: Día de Muertos II

Este viernes dedicaremos nuevamente nuestra sección al Día de Muertos en Oaxaca.

¿En Oaxaca todos los días, son días de fiesta?

Fiesta patronal: es el conjunto de actividades con las que una población celebra al santo patrón (San Juan Apóstol, San Judas Tadeo, etc.) de su iglesia.

Las señales que guían a nuestros difuntos.

Altar de muertos del Instituto Cultural Oaxaca.

Mayordomo: habitante de una población que patrocina las fiestas religiosas en una comunidad.

Fuegos artificiales /Cohetes /Toritos /Castillo: artículos pirotécnicos usados en las fiestas y celebraciones para invitar, iniciar o terminar las mismas.

Ataúd: caja generalmente de madera en la que se deposita el cuerpo de los difuntos, de forma coloquial se le llama Caja de muerto.

Urna o cofre : caja de metal, piedra u otro material, que sirve para guardar  los restos o las cenizas de los cadáveres humanos.

Cripta o tumba: lugar subterráneo en el que se acostumbra enterrar a los muertos.

Calenda: es la forma de anunciar, invitar y celebrar de la población  en sus fiestas, generalmente acompañada de una banda de música.

Procesión: es un acto de carácter religioso y solemne en la que un conjunto de personas siguen un recorrido trazado.

Mono de calenda: figuras de papel maché que representan la forma humana , vestidos con ropa típica y con una estructura de carrizo.

28 de octubre: según la tradición náhuatl en este día llegan aquellos que murieron ahogados.

31 de octubre: llegada de las almas de los niños al mediodía.

1 de noviembre: día de todos los santos.

2 de noviembre: día en el que todos  los difuntos regresan de donde estén.

Tejocote: fruta nativa de México semejante a una pequeña manzana.

“Los muertos nos jalan las patas” si tomamos algo del altar antes de las 12:00 del día del 2 de noviembre, los muertos vienen a jalarnos los pies o las piernas como castigo por tomar de forma adelantada parte de su comida.

Cementerio: terreno, generalmente cercado, destinado a enterrar cadáveres. También recibe los nombres de:

  • panteón: de origen latino, templo dedicado en Roma antigua a todos los dioses.
  • campo santo: lugar sagrado o santo para enterrar cadáveres.
  • necrópolis: de origen griego, la ciudad de los muertos.
  • tetokoyan: de origen náhuatl,  lugar donde están los huesos de los muertos.

Purgatorio: lugar donde las almas están estancadas según la religión católica.

Almas en pena: almas de las personas que no tienen descanso y que siguen viviendo en el mundo terrenal.

Andar como alma en pena: manera extrema de decir que se anda muy triste.

La llorona: mujer que según la leyenda mata a sus hijos a manera de venganza, ya que su esposo la había engañado.

You can also watch our last Google Hangout with our teachers Omar Lemus y Octavio Lara.

 

For more information about our Google Hangouts please email us at info@icomexico.com.

You can also request private classes online at info@icomexico.com

For Spanish Language Classes at Instituto Cultural Oaxaca visit www.icomexico.com

Viernes de Vocabulario: Día de Muertos I

Tradicional Comparsa del Barrio de Jalatlaco. La muerte baila al son que le toquen...

Tradicional Comparsa del Barrio de Jalatlaco.
La muerte baila al son que le toquen…

Como todos los viernes pero en este día en especial dedicaremos nuestra sección al día de los muertos en Oaxaca.

El Día de Muertos es una celebración mexicana  de origen indígena que honra a los difuntos el 2 de noviembre y que  comienza desde el 31 de octubre, y coincide con las celebraciones católicas de Día de los Fieles Difuntos y Todos los Santos.

“Los muertos vienen al mundo de los vivos a compartir los alimentos y la fiesta”

Santoral: Lista de los santos cuya festividad se conmemora en cada uno de los días del año.

Cementerio: Terreno, generalmente cercado, destinado a enterrar cadáveres. También recibe los nombres de panteón, campo santo, necrópolis.

Muerte: Cesación o término de la vida. Figura del esqueleto humano como símbolo de la muerte.

Muerto/a: Que está sin vida.

“Estoy muerto de risa / de cansancio”

“La Catrina”:  personaje emblemático que representa la ironía a las clases altas, del grabador José Guadalupe Posada.

Comparsa: Grupo de personas que vestidas de la misma manera, participan en carnaval o en otras fiestas.

You can also watch our last Google Hangout with our teachers Omar Lemus y Octavio Lara.

For more information about our Google Hangouts please email us at info@icomexico.com.

You can also request private classes online at info@icomexico.com

For Spanish Language Classes at Instituto Cultural Oaxaca visit www.icomexico.com

5 Reasons Why Homestay Families Are The Best Choice To Improve your Spanish Learning in Oaxaca

5 Reasons why Homestay Families are the best choice

Señora Yolanda and Emily.

5 Reasons Why Staying With a Homestay Family is the Best Choice to Get a Full Immersion when Learning Spanish in Oaxaca

1. Responsible Tourism:   Living with a homestay is a form of tourism that allows you to rent a room from a local family to better learn the local lifestyle and to improve your Spanish. When staying with a homestay family you contribute enormously to the local economy because you generate greater economic benefits for local people who also become more culturally sensitive and in exchange they provide more enjoyable experiences through more meaningful connections with local people and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues.

2. More Spanish: Living with a family enables you to interact on a daily basis in Spanish and helps you to practice what you learned in class, enriches your vocabulary and gets you in contact with Spanish more hours a day.

3. A Deeper Cultural Immersion: Staying with a homestay family helps to learn more about the culture and the local traditions of Oaxaca.  When students opt for this form of lodging they live, eat and share the majority of their time with a homestay family who usually involves the students in family events such as dinning out, camping and holiday festivities such as Christmas, Easter, and Day of the Dead.

Families that host students from the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca have been in contact with Spanish language students for many years, and they are the best travel advisers in Oaxaca, while staying in Oaxaca they will give you advice about cultural events, places to eat, how to get to different villages in the valley of Oaxaca.

4. Local Food: Oaxaca is famous for its gastronomy, specially for the “Mole Negro,” and the best is the one my Mom cooks. That is what most people in Oaxaca would say, and to be honest there are amazing cooks among the women who host students from the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca, so if you plan to stay in Oaxaca for a few weeks living with a homestay family will give you a local taste of the flavors of Oaxaca.

5. Less Cost: We recommend our students to study Spanish in Oaxaca if possible one month, living with a homestay family can be a great economic benefit for the family but also for the student. For US$18.00 per day a student can get lodging and breakfast and a great local adviser of where to go, eat or shop. 

Whether you come to Oaxaca or travel somewhere else to Learn a language we strongly recommend that you live with a homestay family. As you can see there are very good reasons to do so.

For more information about Instituto Cultural Oaxaca, Spanish Language Classes or Homestay Families please visit www.icomexico.com

Day of the Dead at the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca

Day of the Dead in Oaxaca

As Native Oaxacan, and as most Oaxacans would say you can come to Oaxaca at any time during the year, the weather it is magnificent, you can join Calendas, parties, and celebrations through the whole year, but my favorite time of year it is during the Day of the Dear, or Dia de los muertos. 

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Many would say that Christmas is the holyday that is most celebrated in Oaxaca, but it is the Day of the Dead, I would say people invest more money on the day of the dead celebrations than in any other celebration, for that reason at ICO we have design a program that while studying spanish allows you to enjoy the magic and the beauty of Oaxaca.

The Instituto Cultural Oaxaca’s Day of the Dead program consists of two weeks and this year we will have the following program. 

  • From 9 to 1PM as usual, we will have Spanish Language Classes
  • In the arternoons from Monday to Thursday we will have Cultural Workshops, but only for these two weeks of the year we host our Mask Making workshop. These masks are used during our Comparsa.  
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  • Our Cooking workshop we will be learning how to make Mole Negro, which is the traditional dish served in this celebration
  • On October 31 we will host our annual Comparsa in which all of students, teachers, friends and families join us at ICO to celebrate the return of the Dead. On this day we will have our althar ignauration.
  • On October 31 we will visit the cemetery of Xoxocotlan. 
  • On November 1st we join the comparsas in the valley of Etla. 
  • On November 2nd we will visit the cemetery of San Felipe del Agua. 

 

 

In addition to activities held by the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca, while you are in Oaxaca you will be able to witness the Day of the Dead festivities from different angles. For example if you decide to stay with a homestay family there are many chances that you will participate in the family’s altar set up. It is very likely that the family will invite you to participate in the different family events in which all the family gets together to received the returning loved ones. 

In the streets of Oaxaca is possible to witness festivals, contests of altars, there flowers and sand tapestries everywere. I recommend that you visit the pateon general which open its doors to welcome of the families, friends and all visitors who would like to partake of this amazing experience.

Markets – Previous to the Day of the Dead Markets operate at their full capacity everyone is buying flowers, candles, sweets, fruit, and all the ingredientes for their altars and of the preparation of the main meal, so the visit of a market is a Thing that you must do in Oaxaca during the Day of the Dead.

Another way to get immerse in Oaxaca’s Culture during this time is by joining a tour with Fundacion En Via in which by supporting a local community you will get in exchange and authentic cultural experience

If you would like to spend your time enjoying Oaxaca and taking advantage of all the activies the ICO offers another way to participate in these celebration is with MOCAdventures who offers a unique and personal Day of the Dead Experience

Things you must do in Oaxaca during Dia de los Muertos

Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos is the most time-honored and expressive holiday of Oaxaca. It is an example of the harmonious relationship between Christianity and the pre-hispanic traditions found in the state of Oaxaca.

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Although Día de los Muertos is recognized all over Mexico, Oaxaca has become known for it’s ornately rich celebrations venerating the return of their deceased loved ones on November 1st and 2nd.

Visit a Cemetery

During this time the living join together to rejoice the return of their ancestors. Visiting cemeteries enables one to enjoy the richness of this celebration. The energy of the occasion is awesome.

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Cemeteries to visit in Oaxaca during this time

  • October 31 visit the cemetery of Xoxocotlan
  • November 1st visit the Panteón General in Oaxaca
  • November 2nd visit the Cemetery of San Felipe del Agua

Visit Markets

All of Oaxaca’s Markets are operating full on in the days prior to the Muertos holiday. They provide the decorations for the altar including the candy skulls, skeletons and ceramic figures.

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Markets to visit in Oaxaca during Dia de los Muertos

  • Saturday – Mercado de Abastos
  • Sunday – Tlacolula La Merced – City of Tlacolula
  • Monday – Miahuatlán – City of Miahuatlan de Porfirio Díaz
  • Tuesday – Atzompa
  • Wednesday – Zimatlan, Etla
  • Thursday – Zaachila
  • Friday – Ocotlán, Atzompa

For more information about markets visit http://oaxaca.wikispaces.com/markets

Participate in a Comparsa

In addition to visiting homes and cemeteries, one may experience the cultural richness of this time by getting involved in the Comparsas, theatrical performances representing the return of the dead, which take place in various outlying villages.

  • There are plenty of Comparsas in the city of Oaxaca one of them is held by the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca A Spanish Language School in which students who enroll for the day of the dead program after a mask making workshop participate in a comparsa organized by the school

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  • Another way to participate in Comparsas is by going to one of the many villages of the Valley of Etla. During November 2nd the Valley of Etla is witness of multiple comparsa organized by the different neightborhoods of the villages in this valley. You can find the most creative designs in this villages. 
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Enjoy the altars

The Oaxacan altars are most commonly built on October 30th and October 31st in the homes of the Oaxacan people. The altar is generally set on a table, and then it is wrapped with a tablecloth, white sheet or with perforated tissue paper. Sugarcane is bound to the foot of the table and run high over overhead into the shape of a triumphal arch. On the morning of October 31st the offerings are placed on the altars; these offerings consist of exquisite dishes that the relatives will come to savour the aromas of.

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Eat Mole Negro

Oaxaca is considered one of the top gastronomic destinations in Mexico and its rich indigenous heritaged blended with a Spanish Influence of more than 300 years is displayed in its flavorful cuisine. In Oaxaca it is possible to find many the regions of Oaxaca and Puebla it is possible to find a vast array of Moles, but it is only in Oaxaca where you can eat the king of moles, the Mole Negro, and during Dia de los Muerts families and restaurants prepare this delicacy to welcome guest both alive and dead who are expected for visit this time of the year

During this time of the year there are many restaurants where you can taste the deliciousness of Mole Negro!

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Visit the artisan Villages

One of the ways you can get more about this cultural experience is by visiting the outlying villages of Oaxaca where you can find crafts and folk art. During this time of the year artisans set up the altars of their families and it is possible to witness first hand how a Oaxacan Family welcomes their loved ones who are visiting in this special ocassion

Villages to visit

  • Arrazola & Tilcajete – Famous for its alebrijes (wooden animal carvigns)
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  • San Bartolo Coyotepec – Famous for its black pottery
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  • Teotitlan del Valle – known for its beatiful rugs (it is possible to get an cultural insight of the community with Fundación En Vía)
  • Atzompa – Green pottery
  • Jalietza – Cotton Textiles

There are many ways in which you can enjoy the Day of the Dead in Oaxaca either by Learning Spanish during this season, volunteering or just by Visiting if you want get the cultural richness of this season MOCadventures offers a unique experience carefully designed to offer you a blend of culture, gastronomy and art.

 

Oaxaca: the perfect year-round destination to Study Spanish

Oaxaca

Oaxaca, situated in the south east of Mexico with a significant share of coast line on the Pacific Ocean, is one of those fantastic year-round destinations. An average temperature of 75F/25C makes Oaxaca the perfect year-round destation to Learn Spanish, there really isn’t bad time to come!

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Here is a list of popular Oaxaca attractions through the year  to check out, whether you’re here summer or winter:

Summer

  • The Guelagueza Festival – This popular summer cultural festival of Folklore, music, art and gastronomy sets apart from the traditional dances of the Guelaguetza
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  • Hike or Bike – The Sierra Norte of Oaxaca is the perfect place to scape during the weekend to hit the slops. There are wide-open, well-groomed runs for beginners and challenging or less-groomed for experts.
  • Teotitlan del Valle Annual Festival – In this traditional Cultural Festival,  you can enjoy and be witness of one of the most expressive folkloric dances of Oaxaca “La danza del Pluma,” participate in the annual Tamale fair and enjoy one of the most important festivals in the central valleys of Oaxaca
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Fall

The best of all seasons to be in Oaxaca, not too hot and the rain season ends on early October letting you to enjoy the best evenings of the year and the best celebration of all Oaxacan Celebrations!

  • Day of the Dead or “Día de los Muertos” – The most time-honored and expressive holiday of Oaxaca. Although “Día de los Muertos”  is known all over Mexico, Oaxaca has become known for it’s ornately rich celebrations venerating the return of their deceased loved ones on November 1st and 2nd. During this time of the year at the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca apart from teaching Spanish we focus our culture classes on this season and students participate in our Mask Making workshop to use in our annual “comparsa”
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Winter

  • Posadas – A nine-day celebration with origins in Spain, now celebrated chiefly in Mexico, beginning on December 16th and ending on the 24th. Every Year at the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca we celebrate our annual “posada” in which we sing Christmas carols (Villancicos) and students, homestay families and children break different the piñatas made in our Piñata making workshop that takes place during the Spanish Program of December
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  • Night of the Radishes – Noche de Rabanos – A unique Oaxacan expression of the Christmas season takes places on December 23rd. Since 1897 takes places in the “zócalo”
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Spring

  • Cuaresma – Lent –  is a wonderful time to come to Oaxaca! What it is Day of the Dead in the fall, it is “Viernes de Dolores” or “Friday of Sorrows” during lent. During this season you can enjoy all the festivities around this wonderful season that starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter! – During Easter is the perfect time to visit the different markets on the valley of Oaxaca, since they are provide all Oaxacans with flowers, sweets and all the ingredients for the celebrations. They are also a key component of the season!

Always is a wonderful time to come to the Oaxaca and sit at the Zocalo and enjoy the refreshing shadows of the “laurales de la india” which are not from India, but from “the indias” which back at the time of the discovery of America is where the Spanish believed they had arrived to.

For more information about the Spanish Program of the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca visit: www.icomexico.com