Traditions of Dia de los Muertos

By: Leslie Lopez Ibanez & Kayla Arellano

Día de los muertos is a Mexican holiday that is celebrated on November 1st and November 2nd. It originated in Mexico and Central America. This holiday is celebrated by many Mexicans to remember and honor their loved ones who have passed away. 

On November 1st, we honor the children who have passed away and on November 2nd, we honor the adults. This holiday is a celebration of life, not death. 

There are many traditions that Mexicans do when this time comes around in the year. One of them is putting up an altar and una ofrenda. An altar is a way where you honor your loved ones by setting up a table with some pictures of them, some of their belongings, and memorable objects.

Every ofrenda includes 4 elements which are: wind, water, earth and fire. 

  • Papel picado, or the traditional paper banners, represent the wind. Many beautiful and vibrant colors are used for this. You fold the paper, cut it up, then you open it and it creates a pattern so you can hang up around the altar.
  • On the altar, they leave water so the spirits can drink it when they come and visit.
  • Earth is represented by food. Some traditional food that is placed on the altar are pan de muerto, tamales, sugar skulls, champurrado, mole, and some people put the deceased’s favorite food.
  • Fire is represented by candles. People set up their candles in the shape of a cross so the spirits can find their way to the altar.

Another way spirits find their way from the cemetery to their family’s homes is by making a path with a traditional flower that is called Cempasúchil flower, or in English, Mexican Marigold flower. It’s a very beautiful flower with a vibrant color. 

Another tradition that is done in Mexico to celebrate your loved one is music and dancing. There is a traditional dance that is called “Danza de los Viejitos” (“Dance of Little Old Men”). This dance is danced by boys or young men dressed as old men with a cane who walk slowly then suddenly they jump up with a lot of energy and start dancing. 

COVID Halloween

By: Anna Hisle

During COVID, people have kept to themselves. Now, with Halloween approaching, children are getting antsy and are counting down the days until they can trick or treat. But are parents really going to let their kids trick or treat in the midst of a pandemic?

While no one really knows what will happen for Halloween, many neighborhoods and people do have plans.

Trick or treating 

According to “WMUR,” in the state of New Hampshire, along with trick or treating guidelines, each town/city has a specific trick or treating time. So, if you live in Nashua, you would most likely be trick or treating at a different time then someone that lives in Barnstead.

Even if you don’t trick or treat with many people near you, the CDC suspects that the holidays will bring more spread of the virus.

Wear masks even though you’re outside. Even if there’s no people near you while trick or treating, protect yourself from the person you are getting candy from. This also protects them from you.

Wearing your mask while going door to door isn’t just safer, but it will also keep you warm if it’s chilly outside. Your mask will also be a cute accessory in case your costume needs some pizzazz!

Parties/gatherings

While many people usually throw Halloween parties with friends or even just family, you might want to skip this year. If you must throw a party, the smart thing to do would be to limit the number of people attending the party and wear masks at all times.

If you attend, according to the “Centers for Disease Control (CDC),” there are many ways to stay safe while trick or treating:

  • Wear masks at all times
  • Stay socially distanced (at least 6 feet, if not more)
  • It might be chilly, but if possible, stay outside
  • Try to have a shorter gathering (the longer the party, the higher the risk of being exposed)
  • Keep it to very few people! (Many states/cities have a rule about how many people can gather)

There are so many more things you can do to stay safe during this pandemic and holiday season! Make sure that you are researching and do not go to large gatherings or parties unless you take proper precautions.

But honestly, be smart! Don’t throw a party or have a big gathering. Don’t trick or treat unless you stay distanced and wear a mask.

But most importantly, STAY SAFE!

Harm caused by gender reveal parties

Revealing the gender of your child is typically a joyous occasion for you and your partner. But the desire to make it unforgettable or over top has sometimes led to some shocking outcomes.

A soon to be grandmother named Pamela Kreimeyer, 66, was killed at her home when shrapnel struck her in her head. The homemade gender reveal shrapnel was filled with gunpowder; it exploded sending pieces of metal flying.

In Texas, another gender reveal party went wrong when a plane crashed carrying 350 gallons of pink water. The accident was caused because the plane was “too slow” and the plane was also designed to carry one person and that caused it to immediately stall.

A couple’s gender reveal video went viral when the parents were on the deck outside their house ready to launch their cannons. Just as the blue powder came out, the back of the cannon shot right back at the dad in his groin area.

The Kiliebert family used the family’s pet alligator, and a watermelon, for their reveal. When the alligator shut it’s jaw, the watermelon exploded revealing it was a boy. Even though no one was hurt, it placed people in harm’s way.

Demi Dickey who lived in Arizona shot a fire arm at a target that was supposed reveal the blue or pink powder, but instead the hit caused a fire that has damage 45,000 acres of land and has caused 8 million dollars in damages.

A new life is always a joyful thing to celebrate, but there is always a safer way to reveal the gender of a baby rather than to go over the top with planes, alligators, or using fire arms. Why not cut a cake with the gender of the baby inside the cake or use balloons to reveal your baby’s gender.

For more information on the harm gender reveal parties have caused please visit these sites:

Youth Climate Justice Summit

By: Vivian S

If you are currently alive in the world, you have probably heard of climate change. One of the most discussed issues in this day and age, everyone seems to have an opinion about climate change. And youth are no exception, which is why they will be having a discussion about it.

On Wednesday, February 26th, which yes, is a school day, from 8:30am to 3pm, youth will be holding a summit to discuss climate change.

During the summit, youth will learn how to participate in government, specifically on the issue of climate change, and get a chance to speak with their representatives. Youth will also get to listen to youth activists, and learn how they are protesting climate change. While the summit may be about climate change, it also will be talking about how social justice relates to climate justice.

While posters around the school proclaim that the summit will be taking place at the MN State Capitol Building, the website says that it will be taking place in a multitude of buildings, mainly the Good Neighbor Center. The Good Neighbor Center is where the Highland group will be meeting first as well. If you are confused, like I was, you can find a map and instructions of where to go on the website.

To find that map and register, go to: https://www.climategen.org/our-core-programs/yea-mn/youth-climate-justice-summit-2020/.

They very strongly recommend and would like you to register.

If you are worried about transportation, the organizers also have options for that. You can fill out an application for transportation funding (though I’m unsure if they’re taking them anymore given applications were supposed to be turned in by January).

The Highland group is currently trying to work out transportation, but hasn’t yet got anything, if they do get transportation, they will be announcing it via announcements or their Instagram (@hpsavestheworld).

Also, if you are worried about food, there will be food there.

Last year, about 200 youth met with 50 senators at this summit. They participated in workshops, some of which discussed climate justice. Multiple organizations including Yea! MN, MN Can’t Wait, Women for Political Change, and MN350 participated in the event.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, whom I’m assuming is a Minnesota youth, you might want to register and plan to attend. 

Black Friday

By: Vivian S

As the great day of destroying and devouring a turkey approached, so did another holiday that I feared much more. Black Friday is came on November 29th. 

I remember as a child hating Black Friday, when my mom would drag me around the overcrowded stores for hours. I still do hold a distaste for it, but it also intrigues me. 

Why do we have a holiday for a day that is just stores selling all their items on sale? The day after Christmas isn’t a public holiday of this much renown. So why does Black Friday exist?

My research for this immediately became complicated with all the different origin stories I was inundated with.

I first found a History.com article that listed 4 different origins of Black Friday, though only one was listed as the “true” beginning of the holiday. The holiday apparently comes from Philadelphia, “Black Friday” being a term the police would use to describe the chaos of the day after Thanksgiving, when everyone would go out shopping in advance of the Army-Navy football game. None of the cops were allowed to take the day off, they would have to work extended shifts, and shoplifters would take this opportunity to do as shoplifters do. 

The term eventually spread, and retailers found a way to spin it in a positive light for them with all the sales.

However, the term Black Friday wasn’t even used in the beginning to describe the holiday. Instead, it was first used to describe the collapse of the gold market in the 1800s because two stock-brokers tried to make themselves rich and it didn’t work. 

The article listed other stories of how Black Friday originated, but says the one I repeated above was the correct one.

Yet, that still didn’t answer to me why Black Friday is such a popular holiday.

Wikipedia says that Black Friday marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, and that many employees are given the day off as part of Thanksgiving, which could be reasons for its popularity.

In the end, I don’t think the endurance of Black Friday will ever make sense to me, and I will just have to live with it, and the shopping my mom will drag me around for.

‘Trail of Terror’

Well this is it, the spooky season. Now we’ve got to think about costumes and candy for the neighbors. But some of us like to go all out. Like haunted houses and mazes, and dressing up for this spooky time. Halloween is very festive, but my favorite thing to do is go to the “Trail Of Terror!”

On Friday, October 18th, I went there. If any of you don’t know, the “Trail Of Terror” is multiple different set ups of mazes. They have different people that dress up in scary costumes and makeup. The whole thing is near where the “Renaissance Festival” usually is.

During my visit I went through “The Maze Of Mayhem.” It has many people hidden throughout the maze. They jump out and scare! I think they did a wonderful job with this, but I feel that it was more suspense than anything and I think on my visit they were a bit understaffed but it was still fun. 

I also went through the mini versions of “The Maze Of Mayhem” which are the trailers. They were a bit disappointing, they didn’t have many people to scare you. 

The wait time gets longer and longer, about an hour after it opens. I arrived at 7:15pm and the line for “The Maze Of Mayhem” was not bad but after we left the maze it had almost twice as many people as it did when we were in line. 

I got in touch with the marketing team and asked them a few questions about “Trail Of Terror” so here it is: 

How many staff do you have return year after year?

About 70% of our staff returns each year and the rest are new people who want to get involved!

Are there emergency exits for the people that are too scared?

There are emergency exits for people who decide to leave the haunted houses before the end. In “The Maze of Mayhem,” there’s somewhere to exit around almost every turn.

Do they ever open an art contest for scary art, or other contests for new ideas?

Some years there are “Trail of Terror” mural competitions where people can submit murals and earn a free ticket.

What is the average age of people that go?

Teenagers and adults are the main demographics that we see, we don’t see young children here very often.

Do staff do their own makeup or is there a makeup team? 

We have a team of one professional makeup artist and some volunteers that do makeup for the entertainers.

How long does the prep, dress/makeup take each day?

It can take anywhere between 1-2 hours for full hair, makeup, and costume preparation.           

What requirements do you need for the job?

You must be over 14, have the desire to act and be scary, and the ability to stay in character!

How long have you been hosting this?

This is our 26th year of “Trail of Terror!”

Who started this tradition? 

“Trail of Terror” is hosted by an events company, Mid America Festival, that also puts on the “MN Renaissance Festival.”

Were there any challenges in starting this?

The biggest part is transitioning from “Renaissance Festival” to “Trail of Terror.”  While they are in different areas of our grounds, there is a lot of work to be done with closing down the “Renaissance Festival” and beginning “Trail of Terror.”

Anything else you want to say?

We have other fun promotions going on this year as well.  

This is the last weekend that you can attend! So, have a great Halloween, don’t get too spooked. 

If you plan on going:

Location: 3525 145th St W, Shakopee, MN 55379   

Prices are Online Tickets: $18.95

Box Office Tickets: $23.95

Times: it opens at 7pm and closes at 12:30am.

Eid

Eid al-fitr (festival of breaking fast) and Eid I’d al- fitr are the two festivals of Islam. Ei-al fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, and is celebrated during the first three days of Shawwal. And on the day of Eid we perform the communal prayer.

Eid al-fitr doesn’t begin until the moon is first sighted, and technically that means across the world Eid al-fitr starts at different times and different days; depending on the location. The festival traditionally last for three days.

On Eid morning, Muslims cleanse their bodies and put on news clothes. Before leaving to perform morning prayer, Muslims wake up to cleanse their bodies with a ritual called ‘ghusl.’ Muslims often get new clothes to pray with and is obligatory that all Muslims do this. Some people wear the traditional prayer clothes and women decorate their hands with henna.

After getting dressed and ready, Muslims gather for prayers in a Mosque and/or outside locations. On that day, Muslims greet each other with, “Eid Mubarak,” which means “Have a blessed Eid.” It is a pretty common thing to say on Eid day to celebrate the ending of fast.

After the prayer, some Muslims go home, or visit close relatives and eat Eid lunch. Or they drink some tea or coffee, eat cookies, sweets, or go out to eat. Younger children get Eid money from older relatives; that varies from $5 or more.

My family, we usually celebrate by praying, going out to eat at a restaurant, and going to play at a amusement park. Many Muslims celebrate the holiday differently: some Muslims play at a park, some stay home, some eat at home, some eat at a restaurant, etc.

Some Muslim families sacrifice an animal and share the meat with the poor, and some exchange gifts.

Mother’s Day

A mother is someone who provides love, care, nurture, and safety for her children. Every mother expresses these aspects in different ways. In appreciation of our mother’s, we celebrate Mother’s Day, which falls on May 12, 2019 in the United States. In other countries Mother’s Day is celebrated on different days, but usually Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May.

Mother’s Day is celebrated in many different ways all around the world, but the main purpose is to celebrate an appreciation towards mothers. According to The Holiday Spot, in the United Kingdom, Mother’s Day is also called Mothering Sunday. It is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent, and is a time to give mothers rewards for their love and encouragements.

On the other hand, in India, Mother’s Day is a time of reflection of how important their mothers are. They also send cards and eat out so the mother can rest and get out of the kitchen.

Gift giving is one of the top ways of showing your appreciation for another, which is one of the reasons why, on Mother’s Day, we treat our mother out to a meal or get her a present. If taking your mother out to her favorite restaurant won’t work, then here is a list of gifts you can give to her:

  • Jewelry
  • Tea or coffee
  • Plant
  • Kitchen utilities
  • Skin care
  • Chocolate
  • Bouquet of flowers

Homemade gifts may be the most meaningful gift you could give your mother, but if you don’t have a lot of art skills you could visit a local store. If you are still unable to find gift at your local store you can visit Etsy to find a Mother’s Day gift for your mother.

So, until Mother’s day, you could think of what ways you could show your appreciation for your mother. Maybe by giving her a present, treating her out to a meal, or maybe spending the whole day with your mother.

Easter: An overview

This year Easter, which is a Christian holiday, occurred on Sunday, April 21. Each year, Easter falls on the Sunday after the first full moon in spring. Easter Day, for Christians, is the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb on the third day after he was put to death. The resurrection of Jesus is a way to renew hope that we have victory over sin. Easter is three days after the death of Jesus on the cross.

Easter is where many people do a period of fasting called Lent leading up to it, and many churches set aside time for repentance and remembrance. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, and ends on Good Friday, the day that Jesus was put to death. On the day before Good Friday, there is a day called Maundy Thursday, considering to be the last supper/Passover Jesus took. Easter is associated with the Jewish holiday Passover, the Last Supper was a Passover feast.

Abstract Passover story Haggadah book over traditional food and Moses. Vector illustration – Image taken from: https://www.sbs.com.au/topics/life/culture/article/2017/04/10/gentiles-guide-passover

During Passover, Jesus took bread, which represented his body, and shared it with his 12 apostles. The cup of wine they drank represented his blood. In present time, Passover observed by breaking bread and drinking wine, or as an alternative grape/cranberry juice. Breaking bread is simply having bread, without yeast, and breaking it into pieces among the people.  These rituals symbolize the sacrifice he was about to make in death, and this became the basis for the Christian ritual.


The week leading up to Jesus’ death is called Holy Week. This includes Palm Sunday, which is the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem and was celebrated, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday when Jesus would be put to death.

Easter Day is a time of celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. As time passed many secular ideas have been incorporated in this holiday. In present time Easter is celebrated as Jesus’ resurrection and/or to celebrate with the Easter bunny.

Another tradition is the Easter Bunny, that delivers candy and chocolate eggs to children on Easter Sunday morning. According to Country Living, the Easter bunny was a part of early pagan (non-religious) celebrations, and Christian missionaries had sometimes incorporated pagan ideas into their holidays. The two were combined to help promote their holidays to others. Historians believe it arrived in America with the German immigrants in the 1700s. The Easter bunny was at first the goddess of spring and dawn named Eastre, but was turned into a bunny by the Germans.

Eastre was celebrated because during spring, people celebrated the renewal of life and fertility. Eastre was associated with newborns and animals, and rabbits were known for reproducing rapidly, which created the concept of the Easter bunny.

The eggs came from when Eastre came late for spring once and saw a frozen bird. Eastre then turned that frozen bird into a white hare and made it lay colorful eggs once a year. The Easter eggs symbolizes fertility and birth in pagan traditions that pre-date Christianity, and also the resurrection of Jesus.

So, even though Easter is a Christian holiday today, it has connections to other beliefs as well.

For more information, please visit:

http://www.holidayinsights.com/easter/

https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/undertanding-the-history-and-symbols-of-easter-1256039.html

Youth Climate Strike

By: Vivian S

The Youth Climate Strike, which happened on Friday, March 15th, was when, in over 40 countries, including the US, students walked out of school to raise awareness and fight against climate change.

The movement was inspired by Greta Thunberg, who protested outside the Swedish parliament and delivered a speech to the United Nations Climate Summit, and the short amount of time science says we have to fix our climate.

We have very few years left to transform our energy system and reduce greenhouse gasses until the damage is permanent. The website for the Youth Climate Strike US, https://www.youthclimatestrikeus.org/platform, says they are striking because world leaders have yet to acknowledge or prioritize this issue. They hope that by disrupting the normal flow of things, by not attending school, they can force governments to deal with climate change.

The strike was to demand that: The Green New Deal be put into effect, that there are no more new fossil fuel infrastructures, that the government make decisions based on the newest scientific evidence, that a national emergency be declared about climate change, that there is a comprehensive education on climate change for K-8, that wildlife is preserved, and that water remains clean.

The solutions they propose are: reforestation, the reduction of food waste, to make goals and benchmarks for the reduction of greenhouse gasses, to change the agriculture industry, to use more renewable energy, to stop fracking, and to stop mountaintop removal and mining.

We can only wait and see if this protest had any effect on the policies governments sign into laws, or if there will be any more strikes. But know this, I think these students will be heard, I don’t think this is the last we’ll hear of them.