Group brings Mexican holiday to Kings Beach
Sylvia Doignon remembers being a child in Mexico City when her grandmother would bring warm bread home each November to celebrate the dead.
“What I remember the most was pan de muerto,” Doignon said of the sweet, round bread topped with “bones.” “In the morning, my grandmother would go to the panaderia and come home with fresh bread and we would get up and have it with hot chocolate.”
Those memories are part of the reason Doignon wants to keep Mexican traditions like Dia de los Muertos alive for children and teens in Kings Beach. Doignon is a facilitator for Creciendos Unidos, a community group that strives to engage Latino teens to keep them off drugs and alcohol and away from gangs.
“In Creciendos Unidos, we are trying to keep kids off drugs and if we keep their traditions alive and teach them their culture, it might keep them off drugs,” Doignon said. “Some kids are born here and living between cultures and they feel like they don’t belong. If they can grasp where their parents came from, they can understand it.”
For Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, members of Creciendos Unidos made an altar to honor loved ones who passed away and held an event Thursday in Kings Beach. The members made tombstones and painted crosses to place on the altar, which was themed to honor people who have died crossing the Mexican-American border, Doignon said.
In Mexico, children typically build the altar, which also includes food the deceased person liked, a glass of water for thirst, orange Marigolds to ward of evil spirits, candles and statues of saints.
The Mexican tradition, which takes place every Nov. 1 and 2, also includes families going to cemeteries and cleaning tombstones and placing fresh flowers on them, Doignon added.
Some of the children who helped prepare the altar for the Kings Beach celebration had not heard of the celebration, which is why Doignon and her group think it is important to keep these traditions alive.
“We want them to be aware of it,” Doignon said. “It shows them that we care.”