October is often singled out as the month when Halloween falls, but it’s also the month of a tradition rich in culture — Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, as translated in Spanish. This Mexican holiday honors and celebrates the lives of loved ones that have passed away. It’s observed from October 31 to November 2.
Day of the Dead combines the Aztec tradition of celebrated ancestors with All Souls’ Day, which Spanish invaders brought to Mexico. The holiday is treated like a family reunion of sorts — dead ancestors are the guests of honor. Rather than a period of grieving, it’s meant to be a celebration of life.
Talking about the concept of death is never easy with young ones, and Day of the Dead could be a great starting point to navigate the discussion. Or, you can use these Day of the Dead movies to open a conversation with your kids about another culture.
Let’s Go Luna!
The PBS show follows the adventures of three friends: Australian wombat Leo, Mexican butterfly Carmen, and American frog Andy. Together they travel the globe in their parents’ performing troupe, “Circo Fabuloso.” At every stop, Luna the Moon serves as a tour guide as the crew learns about the local region and its people, from London to Beijing.
Let’s Go Luna has an episode dedicated to Day of the Dead, where Carmen attends a Day of the Dead festival. She attempts to overcome her fear of skeletons and teaches young viewers about the celebration’s customs. Make sure to tune in on the Parentology website Friday for a free stream of the episode!
Young Miguel dreams of becoming a famous musician like Ernesto de la Cruz, but there’s a problem — his family has a generations-old ban on music. In his efforts to make his dreams come true, Miguel finds himself in the Land of Dead.
With new friend Héctor by his side, he ventures out to meet his fallen idol and unravels secrets about his family history. The animated film is full of twists and turns and showcases the bright and beautiful Mexican traditions of Day of the Dead.
The Book of Life
Kids are on a field trip to a museum when they’re taken to a backroom to learn about Day of the Dead. Their guide tells them a special story about three friends using intricate wooden dolls.
In the Mexican town of San Angel, childhood friends Manolo, Maria, and Joaquin face trouble when Joaquin and Manolo both want to marry Maria. Their love triangle catches the attention of La Muerte (ruler of the Land of the Remembered) and Xibalba (ruler of the Land of the Forgotten), who decide to bet on the outcome of their battle for Maria’s heart.
Super Monsters: Vida’s First Halloween
The animated show gives a glimpse into the lives of toddlers who just happen to be the children of famous monsters like Dracula and Frankenstein. Super Monsters follows the kids at preschool, training their superpowers for when they enter kindergarten.
The super monsters share their Halloween traditions with Vida, including trick-or-treating and dressing up in costumes. In turn, Vida invites them to her celebration of Day of the Dead.
Día de los Muertos Short
Maybe you don’t have enough to watch a full-length film or TV episode with your kid, but this animated short can be the perfect substitute. It features the story of a little girl who learns about the real meaning of Day of the Dead — remembering and celebrating loved ones who have passed on.
Although short, it could be a tear-jerker by the end of the three-minute length, despite the fact no dialogue is used.