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Day of the Dead - Level 1 - Original English Course

Day of the Dead

I arrive in Guatemala on The Day of the Dead, November 1st. I’m curious about this holiday, so I go to the cemetery to see what’s happening. What I find is quite interesting.

The atmosphere is like a party. There are people everywhere. Families are sitting around the graves of their dead ancestors. They clean the graves and add fresh flowers. I walk through the cemetery and admire the beauty of all the colorful flowers.

There is also color in the sky, because many kids are flying kites. Some families are having a picnic next to the graves. They eat, drink, and chat together. People laugh and smile.

In the Unites States, cemeteries are always somber. We certainly never have festivals or parties next to graves. We don’t laugh or play music or fly kites in cemeteries either.

I find that I prefer the Guatemalan approach. I like the way they remember and celebrate those who have passed away. I like that they acknowledge death, instead of denying it the way Americans do. I like that there is life, as well as death, in their cemeteries.

Guatemalans call it “The Day of the Dead”, but it is also a day to appreciate life. 


-cemetery /ˈsemətri/ (n): an area of land used for burying dead people, especially one that is not next to a church

Ex: He was buried in a private cemetery.

-atmosphere /ˈætməsfɪə(r)/ (n): the mixture of gases that surrounds the earth

Ex: Wind power doesn't release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

-grave /ɡreɪv/ (n): a place in the ground where a dead person is buried

Ex: We visited Grandma's grave.

-ancestor /ˈænsestə(r)/ (n): a person in your family who lived a long time ago

Ex: His ancestors had come to America from Ireland.

-kite /kaɪt/ (n): toy made of a light frame covered with paper, cloth, etc., that you fly in the air at the end of one or more long strings

Ex: John wants to fly his new stunt kite.

-somber /ˈsɒmbə(r)/ (adj): dark in colour

Ex: They sat in sombre silence.

-find /faɪnd/ (v): to discover that something is true after you have tried it, tested it or experienced it

Ex: I find (that) it pays to be honest.

-approach /əˈprəʊtʃ/ (n): movement nearer to somebody/something in distance or time

Ex: They felt apprehensive about the approach of war.

-pass away (phrasal verb): to die. People say ‘pass away’ to avoid saying ‘die’.

Ex: His mother passed away last year.

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