Our Day of the Dead Celebrations

DSC_0164This year we decided to add a new layer onto our Halloween festivities and incorporated a ‘Day of the Dead’ celebration into our day. This celebration coincides with Halloween, All Saints and All Souls day, and runs from the 31st of October to the 2nd of November.

Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) originated in Mexico and is celebrated throughout the world. It is a time where families and friends come together to remember and celebrate loved ones that have passed on.

As part of these celebrations people build private altars called ‘Ofrendas’ to honor their dead. These altars are decorated using sugar skulls, flowers, food and photos. It is about honoring the dead and celebrating the gifts of life.

We worked on a number of projects in the art room in relation to this new celebration. One of these projects was the creation our very own large scale decorative skull.


The skull represents the fact that death is a part of everyones lives and that we should not fear it. The flowers, colours, patterns and love heart represents the beauty and wonder that surrounds us in our lives. It is about celebrating life and living each day as if its a gift.

To create this piece we recycled an old paper mache head, that we had made a few years back for a St. Patrick’s Day parade. We attached this piece to an 8×4 wooden board and knocked back the nose and sharpening the cheekbones. We also used plastic flowers from a previous project to embellish the piece. Recycling these items has given them a new life.

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The next project that we done was a brain-storming exercise where the art group created two paper skulls filled with images that represent the things that each group loved about life.

This was a great way for everyone to actually sit back and really think about the good things in their lives and to also think about how best to represent these gifts through images.


Working as a team is a challenge, especially when you are trying to make sure that everyones ideas are honored. The groups worked well and we were very pleased with the outcome.

Smaller paper skulls were also decorated by individuals with colours and patterns. These were hung over our finished altar/ Ofrendas.

On Friday last, before we had our Halloween party, we created an area dedicated to ‘The Day of the Dead’ and ‘All Saint’ and ‘All Souls Day’. Within this area we had an altar. This altar was decorated with skulls, plants and flowers, colourful skeletons and candles. Beside this altar we placed a board upon which we pinned photographs and drawings of those that we wished to remember.


We took some time to chill-out and meditate on the good things in our lives. We also took it in turns to reminiscence about our loved ones and to share these stories with each other.

“I really loved celebrating the Day of the Dead. I loved my daddy and thought this was a great way to remember him. I hope we do this every year. The decorations were gorgeous.” – John Meenan

“I thought it was great. I have a good few people that have passed away belonging to me and I think it was a nice thing to do.” – Geraldine Flynn

“I put up a picture of my mammy (Margret Lawson) on the board. It made me feel kind of sad remembering my family that have died but then we were having a celebration so I felt good again.” – Tony Lawson

“I thought it was all very good. I loved the altar and the way that we took some time out to think about our loved ones that have passed away. There were a few tears shed but I still enjoyed the peace and beauty of it all.  The whole thing was very different and a great lot of work and effort went into the day. The person that I remembered was my Aunt Maureen. She took myself and my brother and sister in when my mother died, and brought me up to be the person that I am today. I was named after her and I hold her memory very close to my heart. I don’t know where I might have ended up if it wasn’t for her. I loved sharing my story with the group and I also liked hearing other people’s memories.”  – Maureen Rooney

“It was a very nice thing to do. I loved my parents dearly and I thought this project was a great way to remember and honor them. It was very interesting to learn about the different traditions and customs that are around the world for Halloween.” – Cornelius O’Callaghan

© 2014 HSE/EVE

About HSE EVE Estuary

HSE EVE Estuary Centre is part of Eastern Vocational Enterprise (EVE) and is a training centre for individuals with intellectual disabilities based in Lissenhall, Swords, HSE Dublin North East. We provide a quality service to sixty four individuals.

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  1. Pingback: Halloween 2014 | Rachel Kiernan

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