What is Día de los Muertos?
Día de los Muertos is commonly associated with Halloween, being called “Mexican Halloween,” mostly for its association with skulls and skeletons; however, they are completely different.
Día de los Muertos is the celebration and remembrance of those who have passed away. It’s the belief that on midnight of Oct. 31, the gates of heaven open and the souls of all the deceased children come to reunite with their families, with the deceased adults coming to visit on November 2nd. Día de los Muertos originated in South and Central Mexico, with the tradition being celebrated in all of Latin America and most recently in the United States. Día de los Muertos has even made it to Hollywood with the amazingly accurate Disney Pixar movie, Coco.
Making altars is a great way to greet the spirits. The altars consist of photos of the loved one, candles, flowers (wild marigolds called cempasuchil and bright red cockscombs), water, toys, candies, and breads called pan de muerto. On November 2nd, alcohol and cigarettes are left at the altars as well for the adults.
Día de los Muertos also consists of cleaning tombstones and decorating the graves of loved ones. The graves are usually cleaned by pulling weeds, and dusting off the tombstone. The graves are then decorated by placing flowers (traditionally cempasuchil, or the orange marigold) which are believed to lead the way for the spirits to their relatives, copal, an archway made of corn stalk or sugar cane, candles, calaveras (skulls), and food. Family members will also spend time at the graves of their loved one to eat, play games, and even sleep.
Some members of HALO (Hispanic And Latino Organization) have shared their feelings for Dia de los Muertos. “I started the tradition with my family because my grandfather passed away and I wanted to remember and celebrate his life,” says Alan Medina, “we have continued with the tradition ever since.”
HALO Vice President, Selina Fernandez, has also commented on celebrating Día de los Muertos on campus. “I think that Día de los Muertos has demonstrated itself, specifically in Mexico, as being a day of remembrance. But what we are thinking about is turning that custom and raising awareness on Latin American issues. Rather than being about one culture in one country, it will be about celebrating and acknowledging other cultures.”
HALO is partnering up with SEAK, the Art Association, Pirates for Pride, and KDChi to celebrate Día de los Muertos in the Bishops Lounge on Nov. 1st from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM. There will be sugar skull decorating, free tamales, with vegan options available, and Mexican candy.
Follow HALO on instagram @su_halo or Facebook (facebook.com/SouthwesternHALO) to be updated on Dia de los Muertos and other events.