A Celebration of Life and Death
Día de los Muertos: A time to remember and honor those who passed on before us, our ancestors, our families, our loved ones. The IEDI, The Office Institutional Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion, of LBCC has hosted a celebration of Día de los Muertos for the past 11 years. Día de los Muertos, a holiday originating in Mexico with the Aztec and Nahua communities, is a celebration of life and a day to remember those who have died. Similar to the traditions of old, the contemporary tradition and belief is that the souls of the departed are able to cross over into our world, just for the night, to join in the festivities, eat, drink, and retrieve the gifts left to them by their loved ones from their graves or from ofrendas.
Ofrendas – altars – are constructed in remembrance, and host photos of the deceased, candles, marigolds, food, and gifts. The IEDI built their own ofrenda in the EDI in Forum 220, brightly lit with candles, marigolds and adorned with beautiful-painted skulls. Students were able to bring photos or items from their loved ones who had passed away and place them on the ofrenda, giving their loved ones’ souls a chance to visit our world, while giving students the chance to recall memories of their lives.
Heather Morijah, a program assistant with the IEDI, said one of her favorite things about their program’s celebration is the chance it provides to educate people that Día de los Muertos is different from Halloween. Halloween has origins in an Ancient Celtic tradition, Samhain, which celebrates the transition from Summer to Winter, Harvest to Dark. They, too, believed the distinction between the living world and the world of the dead blurred on October 31st, the day now known as Halloween. However, the blurring of worlds was not viewed necessarily as a positive chance for relatives to come and visit to reunite with their families. It’s an important distinction and Morijah relishes the chance to educate others on the beauty and importance of Día de los Muertos (and the chance to watch the Disney/Pixar film CoCo, as they did at this year’s event).
This year marked student leader Rosario Romero’s second Día de los Muertos celebration with the EDI. She was the event lead and worked hard to share her culture and traditions with other students. She shared her insight on the purpose of the holiday saying it is about “getting together to celebrate and normalizing views on death; it makes it about celebrating.” Día de los Muertos is a beautiful holiday with rich historical and cultural importance. Check out the IEDI next year for another Día de los Muertos celebration!
If you’d like to learn more about the history of these holidays, take a look at these resources: