1175 The Day of the Dead

Olga talks with Daniel about the Mexican holiday of The Day of the Dead.


Daniel: Hi Olga, how are you?

Olga: Fine, Daniel, how are you?

Daniel: Good, thanks. I wanted to ask you something. I'm really interested about Mexican holidays.

Olga: What?

Daniel: Can you tell me something about it?

Olga: Sure but what do you want to know? I mean why are you interested in Mexican holidays?

Daniel: What kind of holidays you have, what do you do in those holidays?

Olga: Well my favorite holiday is the DÌa de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.

Daniel: What is it?

Olga: What do you think about when you hear Day of the Dead?

Daniel: I don't know. It's a bit scary, isn't it?

Olga: Yeah, kind of but actually for us Mexicans it's not really scary. We're so used to it. Actually that day we celebrate the, not celebrate but remember the people who are already dead especially in our close family.

Daniel: OK.

Olga: We put an altar for them which is like a big table decorated with flowers, bread, coffee or whatever the person that is dead used to like and we think that on that day that person is going to come back from the dead.

Daniel: Really?

Olga: Yeah and visit us and maybe eat the food.

Daniel: OK.

Olga: It's on November first, the second too. The second, the altar is still there and after that we just take everything off and go on with our lives.

Daniel: You keep the altar only on the first and the second?

Olga: Yeah.

Daniel: OK and do you do it just for your family or do you go and visit friends or other relatives?

Olga: No, we only keep it within the family actually.

Daniel: OK.

Olga: Well sometimes we do it at school but still it's just like you know to keep the tradition but usually in the family.

Daniel: OK.

Olga: Well another holiday I can think about is Easter. You have Easter too in Chile?

Daniel: Yes, we do have Easter.

Olga: Easter we actually don't keep it traditional any more.

Daniel: What do you mean?

Olga: You know traditionally we make plays where we represent Jesus and the moment when he died and everything right? But you know we don't reflect about it any more. We just go on vacations to the beach and celebrate and you know go to concerts and stuff.

Daniel: Just as Chilean people do.

Olga: I guess it's kind of a trend now right?

Daniel: Yeah. We don't really think a lot about Easter.

Olga: Yeah.

Learn Vocabulary from the lesson



We put up an altar for them, which is like a big table decorated with flowers, bread, and coffee.

An 'altar' is a small table where items are placed for religious reasons. Notice the following:

  1. There is a picture of the father at the altar.
  2. They put food on the altar as a gift once a year.

come back from the dead


On that day, we think that person is going to come back from the dead.

When a person or thing 'comes back from the dead,' that means it becomes alive again. Notice the following:

  1. Zombies are creatures that come back from the dead.
  2. Horror films often have characters that come back from the dead

keep the tradition


Well, sometimes we do it at school to keep the tradition.

When people 'keep a tradition,' that means they continue to practice it year after year. Notice the following:

  1. Our family keeps the tradition of leaving milk and cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve.
  2. In keeping with tradition, our company has one day a year when everyone wears Hawaiian shirts.



Traditionally, we make plays where we represent Jesus and the moment that he died.

When you 'represent' someone or something, you express its meaning using symbols, images or actions. Notice the following:

  1. The colors on the flag represent love and loyalty.
  2. A dove is usually used to represent peace.



But, you know, we don't reflect about it anymore.

When you 'reflect' on something, you think deeply about past actions regarding it. Notice the following:

  1. In prison, he reflected on his crimes and how he wasted his life.
  2. It is important for students to reflect on the mistakes they make and learn from them.


Answer the following questions about the interview.

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Vocabulary Challenge

Complete the sentences with the words below.
altar • from the dead • keep
represents • reflect
  1.  This symbol protection and blessings.
  2. Our family hopes to the tradition of decorating the house.
  3. In the movies, monsters often come back .
  4. After failing the test, I had to on my study habits.
  5. We lit a candle at the for our deceased grandmother.