Dia de los Muertos celebration honors culture


Gabriel Quiroz / The Advocate

La Raza studies professor Augustin Palacios speaks to the crowd at the Dia de los Muertos event in Fireside Hall on Thursday.

By Gabriel Quiroz, News Editor

Students gathered around Fireside Hall on Thursday eager to gain access to the Dia De Los Muertos event, many lining up well before the event was set to start.
The main attraction for many of the attendees was the delicious cultural delicacies, like tamales, Conchas and Tostilocos. But the food was only a small portion of what the event had to offer.
“I want to make this clear —this is not Mexican Halloween,” La Raza studies department Chairperson Augustin Palacios said.
Students admitted to having some experience with the holiday through previous school events, however, not a lot of people outside of the Latino community had participated in the traditions.
Early childhood development major Alaafia Shambe said, “My high school had events like this, but I’ve never been to one here.”
Liberal arts major Preston Akubuo said, “I want to experience the culture. I know it’s a way to honor those who have passed.”
Like Akubuo, other students had similar responses when asked about what they knew of the event beforehand.
Palacios said, “The event was envisioned to be hands-on with the sugar skulls, Papel picado, food and going around the altar to talk about those who have passed on.”
La Raza students have brought this event to campus before, but nothing gave attendants a first-hand experience of the event like what was presented this year.
La Raza Student Union President Minerva Arebalo said, “We’ve done this event before, so we knew what wanted to do. This time we got help from Palacios and La Raza students created the altar by themselves and that helped us a lot.”
Arebalo said the sugar skulls were made by La Raza Student Union members a week in advance so that they would have enough of them and so they had plenty of time to set before the event.
Students were able to participate by decorating the sugar skulls with different colored frosting and were also able to take them home.
There was an area for children to color drawings, decorate their own sugar skulls and get their faces painted as Dia De Los Muertos-themed skulls.
Palacios had students gather around the altar and told them its purpose and spoke of his own family photos.
“It is a beautiful way to honor family and a way to celebrate those who have passed,” he said.
Attendees were encouraged to place pictures of anyone in their lives who has passed away or leave messages for them on the altar to honor and celebrate them.
Students took this opportunity to share what they placed on the altar and speak about their family members and loved ones who have passed. As part of the tradition, they made sure to state their relatives’ names.
Some even shed a few tears while speaking of their loved ones, which seemed to bring everyone there a bit closer together.