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Skeletons, Art and Memories: Napa Day of the Dead Gallery

In an annual celebration inspired by Mexican traditions, Vintage High School students paid tribute to the departed, including a schoolmate and teacher who died last year, with lavishly decorated "ofrendas" on the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Mu

Nov. 2 is the Mexican Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertes), which has generated its own tradition at Vintage High School in north Napa.

The annual Vintage event, a collaboration of students and teachers in Spanish literature and arts/graphics classes, features lavishly decorated altars, or "ofrendas," honoring the dead.

This year's ofrendas included tributes to Ramon Ramirez, a Vintage soccer player whose violent death more than a year ago has not yet been solved, and to Julian Szmidt a Vintage teacher and swim coach who died unexpectedly around the same time.

There were also ofrendas for labor leader Cesar Chavez, children who died of cancer and famous artists including Salvador Dali and John Lennon.

The ofrendas lined one wall of a corridor in the school's Industrial Arts building, while the other wall and an exit hallway were festooned with students' Day of the Dead-themed art.

There were larger-than-life skeletons, assembled from styrofoam computer packing or created with papier maché; there were neon-bright iguanas and skulls; there were small prints and images of "La Calavera Catrina," the "Elegant Skull."

"La Catrina," based on a 100-year-old Mexican print that has become an iconic Day of the Dead image, was also portrayed by real-life Vintage senior Yesenia Montes in a flowered hat and black and white makeup.

Like a silent opera in miniature, a series of intricate dioramas traced the adventures of Don Juan, right up until he is dragged into the flames of Hell.

The Vintage Day of the Dead also included contemporary images, including two towers of photographs honoring 9-11 victims.

On the wall, a quotation from poet Octavio Paz provided an epigraph for the day:

"To the people of New York, Paris, or London, "death" is a word that is never pronounced because it burns the lips. 

The Mexican, however, frequents it, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it; it is one of his favorite toys and most steadfast love."

For more about Dia de los Muertes in the Napa Valley, please see , a photo gallery of an exhibition held at the Napa Valley Museum.

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Emanuel November 09, 2012 at 05:14 AM
Celebrating Day of the Dead was a really cool experience in Mrs. Aguilar's class because we got to learn about a very interesting culture and be a part of it as a class. -Emanuel Garcia-
Yazmin Dominguez November 09, 2012 at 05:20 AM
This was a really good day and I learned a lot from it. I hope we get to do this again, it was a fun expereince and I was surprised about the new things I learned. The place was beautiful and we decorated it ourselves and I really loved the way it turned out. Now I know the true meaning of the day of the dead and also more about my culture. -Yazmin Dominguez
Gustavo Briones November 09, 2012 at 05:28 AM
Celebrating el Dia de los meurtos with my peers was an awesome experience. I enjoyed decorating sugar skulls. Sharing photographs of our deceased loved ones i feel was a beutiful experience because we sometimes forget but remembering is always carries along with it a warm feeling to the heart. Not to mention the delicious traditional Mexican meals. I and the rest of the class (I am sure) would like to thank my spanish teacher Mrs. Aguilar for taking the time to organize all of this (not to mention the fight she gave to the administration in order to make this happen) and give us this opportunity to experience and learn from our culture
Manuel Cortes November 09, 2012 at 06:11 AM
I enjoyed celebrating Dia de los Muertos with my classmates and learned a lot more about our culture - Manuel Cortes
Julian Reyes November 09, 2012 at 06:55 AM
Dia De Los Muertos showed me aspects of life that I've never experienced before. This day introduced me into a whole new world where people celebrated their loved ones passing and did not get lost in their own sorrow but rather embraced it and revealed that death is not something to be afraid of. Just like any other holiday the decorating and setting up makes everything that much more fun to look forward to for the years yet to come. I'm glad I could be apart of this.
Cynthia Loyola November 09, 2012 at 07:07 AM
Dia De Los Muertos was a very fun day and I really enjoyed taking part in creating the offrenda. It helped me learn more about my culture and at the same time have fun with my peers. It was definitively a day to remember.
Luis Ochoa November 09, 2012 at 07:09 AM
I had never experienced a celebration such like Dia De Los Muertos, i had a good time with everyone, and everything we did to prepare for it. We need to take advantage of those moments to honor our loved ones who have passed away. To let them know that we still think about them and miss them. I am glad i had the oppertunity to be a part of this event.
Luis Ochoa November 09, 2012 at 07:11 AM
I had never experienced a celebration such like Dia De Los Muertos, i had a good time with everyone, and everything we did to prepare for it. We need to take advantage of those moments to honor our loved ones who have passed away. To let them know that we still think about them and miss them. I am glad i had the oppertunity to be a part of this event.
angel contreras November 09, 2012 at 07:35 AM
It was a new experience for me making ofrendas for the Dia De Los Muertos celebration. Many students participated by making sugar skulls and papel picado, but at the end all the hard work was worth it.
Chris Black November 09, 2012 at 07:48 AM
it was an exciting new experience. i have never celebrated the day before but cant wait to do next year. i had so much fun it was very worth it.
Guadalupe Estrada November 09, 2012 at 02:17 PM
I think El Dia de Los Muertos is an important tradion for us and honestly i hsmad a great time with my classmates. it was absolutely magnificant and i enjoyed it!
Stephany Herrera November 09, 2012 at 02:50 PM
This was my first time celebrating El Dia de Los Muertos and it was amazing. It was an amazing experience being able to make to ofrendas, sugar skulls, and the flowers. It was also great because our class got to know each other more.
Maleni Mendoza November 09, 2012 at 03:56 PM
I really enjoyed learning a little more of our Mexican culture, and seeing what we as Hispanics do to remember out lost ones. I also thought it was very organized and creative.
pat martinez November 09, 2012 at 04:11 PM
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pat martinez November 09, 2012 at 04:25 PM
The day of dead Was fun to celebrate.it was also my first getting to know it.I Saw many pictures of the love ones that have passed away. Cant wait to see how it will look next year!
Lucy Alvarado November 09, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Dia de Los Muertos was a celebration that remind me a lot of Mexico.i enjoyed being apart of such an amazing celebration.i have lots of fun making all the decorations we made,it came to show me that you don't need to have lots of money to make something look very beautiful.I can't wait to be apart of this next year.
Delia Jimenez November 09, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Guao! Este evento estuvo espectacular! I enjoyed being a part of this event. The Dia de Los Muertos event was a perfect way to show how the Latin culture expresses their feelings in a positive way towards their loved ones whom already passed away. Viva Mrs. Aguilar!
Ortega Baltazar November 09, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Guau! este proyecto fue algo fuera de este mundo. Desde los preparativos hasta el mismo dia del evento todo fua una gran avenura. Being able to celebrate this with my friends was very fun and being able to share the Mexican culture with the rest of the school and the community was even better. Viva Ms. Aguilar!
Luis Gonzalez November 09, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Guau! Esta fue una experiencia muy differente ya que es la primera vez que celebro El Dia de Los Muertos. Me encanto ser parte del grupo que organizo esto. Viva Ms. Aguilar!
Luis Gonzalez November 09, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Guau! Esta fue una experiencia muy differente ya que es la primera vez que celebro El Dia de Los Muertos. Me encanto ser parte del grupo que organizo esto. Viva Ms. Aguilar!
Luis Gonzalez November 09, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Guau! Esta fue una experiencia muy differente ya que es la primera vez que celebro El Dia de Los Muertos. Me encanto ser parte del grupo que organizo esto. Viva Ms. Aguilar!
Luis Gonzalez November 09, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Guau! Esta fue una experiencia muy differente ya que es la primera vez que celebro El Dia de Los Muertos. Me encanto ser parte del grupo que organizo esto. Viva Ms. Aguilar!
Katia oseguera November 12, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Dia de los muertos is a very special thing in my family and even though i couldnt make an ofrenda at home im glad that we could make one at school , this brought back many special memories im glad i was part of it.
E@velin soto November 12, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Este dia de los muertos fue una celebracion fantastica. Nunca me avia imaginado que lo ivamos a celebrar pero si lo hicimos y fue un gran exito. Me encanto ser parte de esta celebracion y celebrarla con mis amigos.
evelin soto November 12, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Este dia de los muertos fue una celebracion fantastica. Nunca me habia imaginado que lo hibamos a celebrar pero si lo hicimos y fue un gran exito. Me encanto ser parte de esta celebracion y celebrarla con mis amigos.
Jennifer Rios November 12, 2012 at 10:05 PM
En El Dia De Los Muertos, fue una gran experiencia para mi por que yo nunca avia participado en un evento, que aprendi que es muy especial para nuestros seres queridos que han fallecido. Yo aprendi muchas cosas que podemos aser para que no olvidemos nunca aquellas personas que ya no estan con nosotros. Me encanto ser parte de esta celebracion junta con la Sra. Aguilar y mis amigos. - Jennifer Rios
Maria Arenas November 13, 2012 at 03:06 AM
Celebrateing the day of the dead with my peers was a great experiance. I had a lot of fun making the ofrendas and making suger skeletons. I loved that we also shared that experiance with other students in the school. I hope that we get to do something like that next year to. Mrs.Aguilar did a great job organizing it. Thank you Mrs. Aguilar
Daniela Aguirre November 13, 2012 at 04:27 AM
I loved keeping this tradition alive here on our campus at Vintage High School. The cooperation of all the students was amazing! It showed me how death could be celebrated in a completely different way. Muchas gracias maestra!
Kaylee Baker November 13, 2012 at 08:40 PM
thank you for posting about this celebration. it is great to see such diverse culture celebrated in ths napa valley among people of such a young age. bravo!
Viridiana RUIZ November 14, 2012 at 05:38 AM
This is an amazing way to remember the ones that aren't with us anymore. I really enjoyed this day because we all collaborated by sharing pictures,food,memories and more.

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