Last week I had the privilege of attending the press junket for Disney Pixar’s Coco.The movie takes place on Mexico’s Dia de Los Muertos and focuses on Miguel a would be a teen musician. Furthermore, it introduces viewers to Mexican culture and traditions in a detailed and endearing way. Since some readers may not be acquainted with all the holiday’s details I thought I’d share some facts kids can learn from the Pixar’s Coco movie.
#1 Dia de Los Muertos
The Day of the Dead is not a sad holiday. It is actually comprised of two days dedicated to celebrating deceased ancestors, so their memories do not fade away. As mentioned in the movie this is believed to be the day the spirits of departed family members return to visit their living relatives. Many towns in Mexico hold parades and festivals during the days. It was recognized in 2008 by Unesco and added to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Ofrendas are altars that families build either in their homes or at cemeteries. In the Mexican culture, ofrendas are a significant part of the Day of the Dead celebrations. The ofrendas are usually filled with specialty foods, photos, candles and beverages to welcome the spirits that come to visit.
In Mexican tradition, marigolds are associated with the dead. It is believed that their scent and bright color help guide spirits to the correct alters during The Day of the Dead celebrations.In the movie, you can see marigolds on ofrendas, in yards and on the bridges between the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead.
#4 Hairless dogs
Yes, they are a special breed called Xoloitzcuintli( Xolo for short) that originates in Mexico. Going back to ancient times, these hairless dogs are believed to guide spirits to their final resting place.
#5 Papel Picado
Papel Picado is the Spanish name for the beautiful paper cutout banners shown in the movie’s prologue. In Mexico, these cutouts are used for many holidays and celebrations like Christmas, Easter, and the Day of the Dead. The cutouts are made of tissue paper and designs vary depending on the occasion.
Deeply rooted in Mexican folklore alebrijes are mythical spirit guides. Their job is to remind people what is wrong or right. In Disney Pixar’s Coco, there are several alebrijes living in the Land of the Dead. As an indication of her power, Grandma Imelda has Pepita an awe-striking chimera creature that’s part jaguar part eagle.
Abuelitas aka grandmothers are revered in Mexican culture.They provide the emotional, spiritual, and guidance of the family.So, it is no surprise that abuelitas take center stage in the movie. In the Land of the Living Miguel’s grandmother is the one that enforces the family rules. Similarly in the Land of the Dead Imelda is portrayed as the family undisputable matriarch.
#8 La Llorona song
La Llorona is a Mexican folktale. According to the story, the heroine drowns her kids to punish the lover who abandoned her.When she realizes what she’s done she drowns herself too. However, she is denied entry to the Land of the Dead and told she has to find her kids first. As a result, she is doomed to wander the earth weeping and looking for her kids. Watch for the clever way this song is weaved into the plot!
#9 Ernesto De La Cruz
Is there a real Ernesto De La Cruz?
Yes, there is an Argentine singer by the name of Ernesto De La Cruz. However, Benjamin Bratt the voice of Ernesto De La Cruz based this character off his father, and several other Mexican singers from the 1930’s and 40’s.
#10 Pan De Muertos
Pan De Muertos is a sweetened soft bread shaped like a bun. It is usually decorated with bone shapes. Traditionally the bread is eaten at the gravesite or altar of the deceased.
Death is not treated as a scary topic on Dia de Los Muertos. Even though the movie features symbols of death like skulls, they are bright and colorful. With that said, some viewers might consider the topic inappropriate for kids. For parents, the film provides an excellent opportunity to introduce the topic to younger kids.
#12 Face painting
In the past face painting was used to scare away the dead after the ceremonies. Nowadays, people use face painting on Dia de Los Muertos as a way to honor the dead. Typical colors used are yellow (unity), white (purity) red ( life) purple (mourning) and pink (happiness.)
We hope that this list will help you and your kids enjoy the movie.
My son with autism and I found the plot relatively easy to follow. In the beginning, when Miguel is in the Land of the Living, the story might feel a little slow paced. However, once Miguel lands in the Land of the Dead, it picks up. There are a few twists and turns that may confuse some viewers, but all the pieces fall into place by the end.
Between its colorful animation and heartwarming message, Pixar’s Coco is suitable for all age groups.The film is a cinematic gem that is sure to become a family favorite and timeless classic.
Disclaimer: Special thanks to Disney Pixar for hosting us on the press junket event. Our opinions are own and cannot be influenced in any way.
More about Coco
Like COCO on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PixarCoco
Follow COCO on Twitter: https://twitter.com/pixarcoco
Follow COCO on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pixarcoco/
Visit the official COCO website here: http://movies.disney.com/coco
COCO with Olaf’s Frozen Adventure opens in theatres everywhere on November 22nd!