Schools debate: Festivals and traditions
- DEBATE POINT: What special days and celebrations do you have in your country?
- DEBATE POINT: How do you think your country is perceived by other people?
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your contributions to the debate!
LATE UPDATE: Let's hear some late thoughts on 'festivals and traditions' from Instituto Montini in Mexico Ciy, Meixco!
Itzel from Grade 5 has been watching the 'Day of the Dead' film, right, and tells us:
"We celebrate the Day of the Dead with a little ofrenda (altar) in our house. I like to do it with four candles, the light that the dead people need follow in order to come back during this day to the earth."
"We celebrate the Day of the Dead by making our ofrenda too and eating a special kind of bread called "pan de muertos", adds Jorge.
Mariana says: "In our ofrenda we put the picture of our relatives who died and if they were children we put their favorite toys."
And María adds: "Something very important in our ofrendas are the Cempazuchilt flowers - orange colourful flowers that rise all over the country during this season."
Thanks very much for all those comments!
After nearly four hours, it's time to bring today's session to a close.
It's been a great debate, we'll think you'll agree - and we hope you enjoyed learning more about festivals and traditions from other countries.
A massive thanks to our three Mexican schools who took part today - Colegio Newland, Instituto D'amicis, and Sofia, Michelle, Bernardo and Santiago from Centro Educativo Monarca!
We'll see you next week for another debate - and don't forget, all the details of our upcoming debates can be found here.
Centro Educativo Monarca pupils from Zamora, Mexico, tell us: "In Michoacan we have the most important celebration where all the people from Mexico get together.
"Even people from around the world visit the Day of the Dead festival on Janitsio Island in Patzcuaro."
UPDATE: If you're just joining us, schools around the world are discussing festivals and traditions!
They are posing questions to several Mexican schools who are online to talk about their annual festival, The Day of the Dead.
It's been a fantastic debate so far, and we are going to keep running it for another 15-20 minutes to let you submit your questions.
So if you've got something to ask or a local festival you'd like to tell us about - don't be shy! Email email@example.com now!
Colegio Newland have answered some more of St Mary's CEP School's questions!
Q: How did this Festival originate?
A: It origin takes back since Aztecs, when the prehispanic cultures use to conserve the skulls and venerate them.
Q: Are there special dances that you learn for this Festival or are they just normal Mexican dances?
A: Not an special dance, but we have much music and dancing.
Q: What are the main instruments that are used for the music in the Festival?
A: Guitar is the most popular instrument.
Intutuo D'amicis have answered some more of Wunshan Senior High School's questions:
Q: Is there any supernatural phenomena on the Day of the Dead? For example, have anyone seen the spirits or ghosts?
A: Well some people claim to have seen ghosts, others say they feel the presence of their family members that come back.
Q: What will happen if some people dress like it is the Day of the Dead on a regular day but not during the festival?
A: We have never seen that here, but I think it would be weird to see someone dressed up as a catrina some random day, nowadays most people don't really dress up at all on that day anymore.
Q: Our students also want to ask Mexican schools whether they know about any festivals in Taiwan?
A: No, not really. Sadly we haven't studied much about it, but that would be something we would be really intererested in.
At 1412, Colegio Newland mentioned the Cempazuchilt flowers, whose smell 'guides the dead'.
Centro Educativo Monarca pupils from Zamora, Mexico, have sent in this great picture which shows how the flowers are used in an altar for the dead.
Centro Educativo Monarca from Zamora, Mexico, have written in with answers for Kaohsiung Municipal Wufu Junior High School in Taiwan (see 1355)!
"We have different legends from different parts of Mexico, like for example, in Zochimilco we have "La Llorona" (the 'crying woman'). In Michoacan we think that the dead are atracted by butterflies and guide them through the earth.
"We also prepare food they used to like, the most traditional is mole (a mixture of different kind of chilis) and tacos; for adults, tequila and beer.
"Also Pan de Muerto (bread of the dead) and a cup of chocolate."
Intituto D'amicis have answered some questions from Wunshan Senior High School in Kaohsiung, Taiwan!
Q: Why do people make their face white on the Day of the Dead?
A: Not everyone does, if they do it's part of their celebration, maybe some indigenous groups for their folk dances, etc.
Q: In Chinese culture, we have a month called Ghost Month. For us, we are afraid of the month and there are many taboos in that month. Do you have any taboos on the Day of the Dead in Mexican culture?
A: No not really, Day of the Dead is a day of celebration, is like celebrating the person's birthday or something, it's a joy that our passed ones are coming back to see us once a year, and that's why we leave in the ofrenda as stuff that they used to like when they were alive.
Q: Do you view the dead just like the way you celebrate the festival? Mexican people seem very happy on that day but for Chinese people in Ghost month, we are really afraid and try not to do wrong things in case of breaking the customs.
A: Well most people try very hard to stay with the customs, they do things the way it is but some others try to bring a new kick to it, maybe they do ofrendas in a different way, or not include the typical things.
We asked Intituto D'amicis - Is it a normal part of the festival to have something in school, or is that something new?
They answered: "We have "ofrenda" contests, and for example this year, each section (primary, secondary and preparatory) are doing something different, there will be "ofrendas", some hot cocoa and "pan de muertos or hojaldra", some contest of "calaveritas" which are verses that talk about someone who died and they can be funny, some people will dress up as catrinas, there will a performance by the drama club, etc. "
We've been joined by another Mexican school - a warm welcome to Centro Educativo Monarca, who hail from Zamora in the Michoacan region - hello to them!
On whether they dress up for Day of the Dead, they say this: "It's like a mixture between Halloween and Day of the Dead. On October 31 and November 1, at night children dress up in costumes and ask for candy like treat or trick, but we say something like "me da para mi calaverita??"
Who can translate that?!
Intituto D'amicis have answered some more questions:
Q: Do all schools in Mexico celebrate DOTD?
A: Maybe not all of them celebrate it the same way but at least there's some sort of sign that shows that the school is at least passively celebrating it with decorations on the wall or an "ofrenda".
Q: What is it that a school typically does to mark the event? How much time do they spend building up to it?
A:At least the schools have ofrendas set up somewhere. If it's something done by the students, like our case last year, each class is in charge of their own ofrenda and we dedicate a whole day to it.
Q: Are there days off school?
A: Yes, this year we are having the 1st and the 2nd off. Usually because people go to the graveyard, etc.
Some of you have been asking what type of flower features in the 'guide to Day of the Dead' film (see right).
We ask Colegio Newland pupils for an answer - after all, they are the stars of the film!
They replied: "Cempazuchilt flower! It only grow in October/November, that is why is the flower of the dead.
"It smeels very strong and its smell is important to guide the dead in this living land."
Colegio Newland from Queretaro, Mexico, have responded to the ideas about how Mexicans celebrate Day of the Dead (see 1359):
"Some of the ideas are not so true, we do not dance Conga, it is not an special dance of the day of the dead.
"And not all Mexicans go onto the streets, only in some towns."
Oh well - 4 out of 6 isn't bad!
Intituto D'amicis pupils have answered some questions from St Mary's CEP School in Folkstone, UK!
Q: We studied Mexico and the Aztecs when we were in Year 2, is it true that chocolate really first came from your country?
A: Yes, cacao was very important for the Meso-American cultures. It had special roles in Aztec and Mayan religious and political events, and people would grow the beans and use them to pay taxes.
Q: Do all the children dress up in costumes for the Day of the Dead and if so, do they have the day off school?
A: Not all, and that tradition didn't start until they "copied" the Halloween tradition, and if they do they wear costumes of skulls or catrinas, and not always there's a day off, sometimes there are celebrations at the schools.
We are joined online now by Instituto D'amicis from Puebla, Mexico - a big World Class hello to them!
They tell us: "In Mexico we remember our family members who've passed away. It is believed that they come from the afterlife. We have a special day to celebrate kids and another one for adults."
Do you have any questions for them? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org - right now!
St Mary's CEP School have sent us some pictures of their preparations for Halloween:
What kind of preparations do you make for special days and celebrations in your country?
Pablo from Colegio Newland in Queretaro, Mexico, ask the pupils at St Mary's CEP School in Folkestone, UK:
"What do you think we do in the Day of the Dead?"
St Mary's tell us that they think you:
2. Play round the gravestones
3. Have a party
4. You might dance the Conga
5. Everyone is parading down the streets.
6. Everyone is celebrating
We'll have to wait and see if they are right!
Pupils from Kaohsiung Municipal Wufu Junior High School in Taiwan have questions for the Mexican schools!
"The host in the video (Mexico: celebrating Day of the Dead) video is dressed like a female ghost. Is there any famous ghost or ghost story in Mexico?"
"In Taiwan, we will prepare a lot of food for the dead. In addition to the special costumes, do you prepare any food for them? What is prepared traditionally?"
Colegio Newland pupils from Queretaro, Mexico, tell us:
"The debate team all agree that (Day of the Dead) is a happy day because we remember all the people we love and have died. Also it is a sad day, at the same time.
"But we really love day of the dead because is an opportunity to spend time with family, even if someone is dead!"
St Mary's CEP School have some questions about general school life for Colegio Newland, who have responded!
Q: Are both genders treated the same?
A: "In Colegio Newland, Raúl, Sofía y Axa said that they are treated the same. They have the same opportunities. They enjoy they can spend time learning together at school."
Q: What sports do you play at school?
A: "We play basketball and football," said Elisa, Sergio and Frida.
Colegio Newland have answered another question (1300) about what kind of food is eaten during Day of the Dead festival:
"Pan de muerto, it means bread of the dead. Tamales, made with corn and chili, calaveritas de dulce, it means skulls made with sugar... And all the food that the dead liked."
Colegio Newland pupils have replied to St Mary's CEP School's question about costumes (1300) they write:
"We use Catrina costume, it means a skeleton dress as a fancy lady, elegant one, with a hat with flowers. There are many skeleton costumes."
"Hello friends!" begins the latest email to hit the World Class inbox.
"We are students in Kaohsiung Municipal Wufu Junior High School, Taiwan.
"In Taiwan, the seventh month of the lunar calander is also called the 'Ghost Month'. On the first day of this month, ghosts or souls of the dead will come out and people will prepare "a big feast", like meat, fruit for them and even burn a lot of paper money.
"People call the ghosts "our good old buddies." People prepare the feast and burn insense to share with them and hope they will protect us from disasters."
Vijaya International School in Agra, India have been telling us about a festival they celebrated earlier this week:
"The main festival which we had celebrated on 23rd of this month is Dusshera. It is a Hindu festival. It is celebrated for ten days to mark the victory of good over evil. On this day, large effigies of Ravana, his brother Khumbhkarana and his son Meghnatha signifying evil are burnt."
Not everyone agrees, though.
"Julio and Sarai said that in her family does not celebrate this day, because her religion is quite different.
"Cristopher's family only get together to eat Pan de Muerto ('bread of the dead'), but does not set an altar."
Colegio Newland pupils (see below) have been thinking about whether they believe the dead really do visit them on 1 November.
"Pablo's family believe in day of the dead, and they set an altar for their grandparents, every year. It is an special day and they think it is very important to keep it.
"Sergios's family do as well - they always set the altar."
A big hello to Colegio Newland from Queretaro, Mexico, who have just joined us online!
Their pupils star in the 'guide to Day of the Dead' film which you can watch on the right.
Do you have any questions for Colegio Newland? Send them to email@example.com.
St Mary's CEP School in Folkestone, UK, have some questions for the Mexican schools who will be joining us online shortly!
- What is the most popular costume that people wear at the Day of the Dead?
- How did this festival originate?
- What kind of food do you eat during the festival?
- Are there special dances that you learn for this festival or are they just normal Mexican dances?
- What are the main instruments that are used for the music in the Festival?
Arjun from The Sagar School in Rajasthan, India, has this to say about Indian festivals and tradition:
"In my country there are special days or festivals are very diverse and every person celebrates each festival with great joy. Each festival has its own significance in the hearts of people.
"Diwali is one of the most auspicious festivals as it remarks the return of a God from exile. Similarly, festivals like Halloween also play a part in the lives of young people these days."
Lets hear more about festivals that are celebrated in India from Apeejay School in New Delhi. Savita writes:
"Following Dussehra, the festival of lights, Diwali is celebrated. It is celebrated within a gap of 20 days after Dussehra. It is celebrated to mark the time when lord Rama returned back to his native place, defeating Ravana for his evil deed.
Other than these we celebrate festivals of diverse religions such as we, in India, celebrate Id-ul-fitr and Id-ul-zuha. Id-ul-zuha will be celebrated on 27 October. The Muslim community sees this festival as one of the major festivals.
The Sikh community even enjoy the birthday of their almighty which is celebrated as Guru Nanak's birthday."
Let's hear more from The Khaitan Public School in Sahibabad, India - this time about Durga Puga, a festival celebrated in India around late October.
"The festival sees huge, elaborately crafted statutes of Goddess Durga installed in homes and beautifully decorated podiums all over the city.
"People flock to the streets to view the goddess statues amidst mesmerizing light shows, drumming, and aromatic food stalls.
"At the end of the festival, the statutes are paraded through the streets, accompanied by much music and dancing, and then immersed in the holy Ganges river."
We're an hour and a half into our live schools debate - but this week we are keeping the debate going for some time yet.
If you're just joining us, schools around the world are discussing the topic of festivals and traditions.
We hope to be joined within the next hour or so by some Mexican schools ready to answer your questions about the Day of the Dead, a uniquely Mexican festival you can find out more about by watching our videos on the right.
So keep those debate thoughts coming by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amrit from Gyanodaya School in Kathmandu, Nepal, has been watching our films (right) and has this to say:
"Watching the video about the Mexican festival The Day of the Dead aroused a feeling in me and that feeling is the feeling of respect for them.
"When are our loved ones die we just bury them or burn them and say may their soul get a place in heaven and flow on with our life but the Mexicans are different.
"They are celebrating a day to remember the loved ones who are dead and to show a mark of respect.
"While we understand R.I.P as REST IN PEACE, they understand it as RETURN IF POSSIBLE.
"I salute them as a mark of respect and wish that this festival will be carried for generations to generations."
The Khaitan Public School in Sahibabad, India, have written in to tell us more about Indian festivals!
"Mysore Dussehra is Dussehra (see 1138) with a difference! The city of Mysore's royal heritage ensures that the festival is elaborately celebrated on a grand scale.
"In Mysore, Dussehra honors the Goddess Chamundeswari, who killed the great demon Mahishasur.
"Cultural performances and fairs are the highlight of the ten-day Dussehra celebration and a grand parade of decorated elephants and guards mounted on horse back escorts the goddess through the city."
Hello to Apeejay School in New Delhi, India. Savita writes:
"For us, the Indian citizens October and November are the two months of the year where we enjoy various rituals. They are not just mere 60 days but they are the days where we re-live our life, forgetting every quandary. These days of hedonism include Dussehra, a festival to mark the victory of good over evil deeds, which was celebrated yesterday."
Thanks very much for your comments Savita. We'll be hearing more from Apeejay School shortly.
Let's hear some more from Vijaya International School who have been thinking about how others perceive India (see our debate points, top).
"Our county is looked and understood as a conservative and rigid culture.
" 'Indians' are always thought as people from strong family roots, conservative at the same time welcome to new thoughts and opinions, who are firm believers of their faith and religion.
"Another common thought on Indians and our celebrations is that we celebrate with a bang. Diwali is loud with crackers; we celebrate in huge numbers with family members getting together; we celebrate by eating sumptuously, with a large spread.
"None of our celebrations are complete without visiting the place of worship."
We've heard about Guy Fawkes Day from St Mary's in the UK. Are there other non-religious festivals?
St Mary's CEP School in Folkestone, UK, have been using their computers to create some Halloween art... Let's take a look!
Some great thoughts from Pragun from The Sagar School in Rajasthan, India, who has been considering our debate points (above).
"My country is perceived in the greatest as well the worst possible ways by people of other countries, because this is India - the land of million gods, a billion and half hearts and more than a trillion corresponding worthy days.
"Auspicious events take place around the clock. It is considered religious by those who have been to our temples, filthy by those who have seen the shacks and culturally social by those who have had the taste of Indian art, craft and music."
Fantastic comments there from Pragun. How do people perceive your country?
A quick update for those of you just joining us: pupils all over the world are discussing festivals and traditions.
We hope to be joined in the next hour or so by Mexican schools preparing for Day of the Dead celebrations, so send in your questions for them!
In the meantime, share you thoughts on the Day of the Dead film and your own country's festivals by emailing email@example.com.
Amrit from Gyanodaya School in Kathmandu, Nepal writes:
"My country Nepal is a secular country enriched with different types of cultures. We have Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism and so many others. So we have lots of festivals in our country.
But a there is a particular festival I like talking about and celebrating is Holi the festival of colours. In this festival people play with colors and water. Whether they are Hindus or from any other religion, all the people of my country enjoy it the most."
More now from Vijaya International School in Agra, India who write:
"A large number of festivals are celebrated in India these festivals are in commemoration of some saints, gurus and prophets, the gods and goddesses or events celebrating their victories. Religious ceremonies with ample fun and celebration marks the Indian festivals.
Festivals of India play a major role spreading unity and diversity, with emphasis on communal hormony."
Are most festivals religious? What do you think?
Beth from St Mary's CEP Primary School in Folkestone, UK has sent us her account of St Patrick's day in Dublin:
A big World Class hello to Wunshan Senior High School in Kaohsiung, Taiwan!
They have been watching the 'Day of the Dead' films on the right and have some questions for the Mexican pupils to answer when they come online a bit later.
"Firstly, why do people make their face white on the Day of the Dead?
"In Chinese culture, we have a month called Ghost Month. For us, we are afraid of the month and there are many taboos in that month. Do you have any taboos on the Day of the Dead in Mexican culture?
"And do you view the dead just like the way you celebrate the festival? Mexican people seem very happy on that day but for Chinese people in Ghost month, we are really afraid and try not to do wrong things in case of breaking the customs."
Another festival where effigies are burnt from the UK. Kian and Beth from St Mary's CEP School in Folkestone, UK, have written in - hello to them!
"On November 5 we have Bonfire Night to celebrate when Guido Fawkes (Guy Fawkes) tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London on the 5 November, 1605 - this was during the State Opening of Parliament.
"We sing a song... 'Remember, remember the 5th of November, gunpowder, treason and plot'."
Let's hear more from The Khaitan Public School in Sahibabad, India, following on from their comments about Navarati (1115).
"On the tenth day of Navarati, the festival culminates with Dussehra, the victory of good over evil.
"On Dussehra, huge effigies of the demon Ravana, Kumbhkaran, Meghnath are burned all over India.
"Dussehra is predominantly a northern Indian festival but the festival is celebrated all over India in different ways.
"In Delhi, the feature of Navaratri celebrations are the Ramlila plays that take place all over the city."
We are half an hour into our debate, and if you're just joining us, pupils all over the world are discussing festivals and traditions.
We hope to be joined in an hour or so by Mexican schools preparing for Day of the Dead celebrations, so send in your questions for them!
In the meantime, share you thoughts on your own country's festivals by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
A warm World Class welcome to The Sagar School in Rajasthan, India who held a special 'Festivals and Traditions' of Mexico assembly.
Avelok writes: "In India, my country, there are uncountable special days and celebrations. Every community, creed and race has their own special days that they hold on to, with a tenacity that is common to all.
Even so, the most celebrated days apart from Christmas and Eid are Guruparv (a Sikh festival, marking the birth of their first Guru and the famous Hindu festivals of Diwali (marking the return of one of their many gods from exile) and the spring festival of colours - Holi ( also marking the destruction of Holika, a she-demon)."
Some interesting comments from Vijaya International School students, who have been thinking about our debate point (above): 'How do you think your country is perceived by other people?'
"As a students India, we feel our country is perceived as a culturally rich country with varied heritage. Our country India is a secular country, where every individual has the right to follow the faith, religion that we believe in.
"This month from October to November sees the Hindus observe Navratri, the Mohommedian faith observe Id-Ul-Zuha, the Christians observing All Souls' Day in early November, and the Sikhs observing Guru Nanak's Birthday."
A warm welcome to St Mary's CEP School in Folkestone, UK - they've written in to tell us about some festivals being celebrated in the UK very soon...
"In England we celebrate Hallow'een on the 31 October, the night before All Saint's Day on 1 November.
"On Hallow'een we dress up as ghosts, witches and scary creatures. We hollow out a pumpkin and make it into a face and put a candle inside to light it up.
"We have decorations of bats, owls and spiders' webs. We also go trick or treating."
The Khaitan Public School in Sahibabad, India, have written in to tell us about some of their festivals.
"October is a very exuberant time in India. The festival season is in full swing.
"Navarati is usually celebrated in late September/early October each year.
"Over the course of nine days, the Mother Goddess is worshiped in her various forms - Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.
"Each goddess is worshiped for three days in turn, starting with Durga who destroys negative tendencies. Next is Lakshmi who bestows good virtues and fortune, and last is Saraswati, who instills wisdom and spiritual knowledge.
"The worship, accompanied by fasting, takes place in the mornings. Evenings are for feasting and dancing."
A big World Class hello to you all!
It's time to kick-start today's live schools debate on the topic of 'festivals and culture'.
We want to know: What special days and celebrations do you have in your country? And how do you think your country is perceived by other people?
Later on, we'll be joined online by Mexican schools keen to field your questions about their unique festival, The Day of the Dead.
Check out the videos on the right to find out more about this fantastic festival.
And send all of your questions, ideas and comments to email@example.com!
We'll post them here during the next couple of hours along with some amazing contributions schools have already sent us.
One hour to go until our schools debate on the topic of 'festivals and traditions'!
It's not too late to take part! All you need to do is discuss the debate points above with as many or as few pupils as you like, and follow the live conversation on this page from 1100.
You can join the conversation by emailing your opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE: This debate on festivals and traditions will run until at least 1430 BST on October 25, as we will be joined online by several Mexican schools from 1300 BST onwards.
One of these schools will be Colegio Newland, whose pupils star in the 'Short guide to the Day of the Dead' film on the right.
If you have questions for them about Day of the Dead, you can send them to us at any time.
And if you can, join us right here at 1300 to chat with them live.
Join us right here at 1100 BST on Thursday 25 October for a worldwide schools debate about festivals and cultural traditions!
It's easy to get involved! Here's how it works:
1. Take a look at our film (right) about the Day of the Dead, a Mexican festival where they welcome the dead back to earth for three days.
2. Discuss our debate points (see top of page) with as many pupils as you like.
3. Join us on Thursday 25 October to share and debate your opinions with other schools from around the world.
Joining the live debate is easy - just email email@example.com on the day or beforehand, and we'll post your comments right here on this page.
You can also find out more about how the debates work with our handy debate guides.