Dia De Los Muertos or Day of the Dead is an annual Mexican holiday in which people take the time to pray for and remember loved ones who have passed. Here, at NDNU students have come together to bring a few of these traditions right to our very own campus.
All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day and finally Day of the dead, October 31st through November 2nd, is a time dedicated to the remembrance of loved ones who have passed. During this time, families make their way to cemeteries where they take flowers, candles, and even favorite foods of deceased loved ones. In addition to spending most of the day at the cemetery, families often build their own and at-home altars where they honor the lives of their loved one(s). Although this holiday derives from Mexico, the traditions and practices have made their way to America.
Cemeteries in Mexico are often elaborately decorated and ready for a “feast” that is made to welcome their deceased friends and family back for the day. In addition to festive decorations, many people light candles and copal incense for what is called the alumbrada; a vigil. Many believe that the candles assist the spirits in finding their way back. NDNU students are also welcomed to learn how to make “papel picado”, a traditional decoration made of thin paper with delicate cut out patterns.
As it is tradition, NDNU students have created an altar where students can dedicate paper candles to loved ones, a play on a traditional alumbrada. Along with Mexican lunch specials, a mariachi band played traditional music throughout lunch. “In recent years, I’ve seen that Day of the Dead is a pretty big deal in LA” says Jason Yuson, junior, “but I’ve never taken the time to understand the history behind it, its pretty cool”.
During lunchtime on Day of the Dead, a mariachi band was hired to play for the students. Marinel Alcantara, junior, shares how “[she] thought it was really cool” and how she felt that “they seemed to put a lot of effort into these activates; the “candle” dedications, the food, the music. They really set the tone for the holiday”.