The Latinx Student Association (LSA) has been preparing for the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration all month.
It took 10 people to set up an hour before the event began on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. Around 85 students signed into the event. However, it appeared that more than one hundred students attended the event to enjoy the night’s festivities. Students came in for various reasons including EMU’s Edge program, study table hours, and fun.
“I’m here for fun,” said freshman Kenzie Wright. Wright said that she came in with her roommate, who was there with the Edge program, but she stayed for the coloring and food.
LSA had a table set up full of arts and crafts. Students could color and paint their own pictures of sugar skulls as well as get sugar skull face paint. LSA was also raffling off three authentic sugar skulls during the event.
Festive music and chatter filled the room while students were waiting in a line for food that wrapped around the entire room. LSA had provided taquitos (both a meat and vegetarian option), chips and salsa, rice, and conchas (Mexican sweet bread).
Around 8:15 p.m. Tatiana Rodriguez, a senior in her 5th year participating in LSA, gave a presentation about Dia de los Muertos’ history and traditions. However, the presentation would also discuss traditions and beliefs about death in other cultures all over the world.
Rodriguez said that Dia de los Muertos can be traced back 3,000 years and it was celebrated at the end of summer going into fall until the dawn of Christianity when the celebration would be moved to All Saints Day (celebrated by Christians on Nov 1).
Dia de los Muertos is celebrated in many different ways across Hispanic culture, but the underlying theme is to celebrate the lives of loved ones who have died. Having an altar is a Dia de los Muertos tradition that is shared across many Spanish countries. The altar is a symbol of respect for loved ones.
LSA had their own altar set up at the front of the room. The altar had several loved ones represented. Their pictures were surrounded by candles, crosses, sugar skulls, food, and other colorful and festive decorations. Their altar also featured a bowl of salt which represents the continuance of life and a single record titled, Lo Mucho Que te Quiero by Rene & Rene.
Rodriguez went on to explain that food offerings are also a common feature on altars. Some traditional food found on altars include fruits, vegetables, and pan de muerto (bread of the dead). However, any of the lost loved one’s favorite foods will be found on the altar.
“If your grandma loved Hot Cheetos, you put Hot Cheetos on that table.” Rodriguez stated. She went on to say that alcohol can also be found on altars.
Native American, South Korean, French, Italian, Swiss, Greek, and South African traditions about death were discussed near the end of the presentation.
“It’s my favorite holiday,” said senior and LSA president Maria Pomo.
Another member of LSA, Dominique Hernandez said that the event is to celebrate and teach the campus about Latino and Hispanic culture.