Día de Los Muertos ‘is not Mexican Halloween’

Brenda Adame, bilingual education sophomore, and Patricia Ramirez, bilingual education senior, welcome MSU students and guests during the Día de Los Muertos event held by multiple organizations in the Clark Student Center atrium on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. Photo by Francisco Martinez

Colorful tables surrounded the Clark Student Center atrium, while the movie “The Book of Life” played in the background.

About 49 people made their way around the stations for Día de Los Muertos, which included sugar skull cookie decorating, sponsored by the University Programming Board; flower headband making, sponsored by Kappa Delta Chi; marshmallow decorating, sponsored by Sigma Alpha Lambda; refreshments, sponsored by the Bilingual Education Student Organization; and face painting, sponsored by the Organization of Hispanic Students.

“Each organization came together and brought their own thing or activity,” Patricia Ramirez, bilingual education senior, BESO president and OHS treasurer, said. 

Día de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, mostly celebrated in Mexico, is meant to celebrate the lives of dead loved ones. Families clean and decorate their loved ones’ tombs with flowers, specifically wild marigolds, candies, food, art and sugar skulls. They believe keeping their spirits happy would bring the family protection, good luck and wisdom. It is celebrated annually from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.

Celeste Gallardo, marketing sophomore, said she had the privilege to celebrate Día de Los Muertos in Mexico before.

“We take flower crowns to our ancestors’ and spent the whole day there with them,”  she said. “We sweep the tombs to make them neat and pretty. The community comes and brings their deceased loved ones’ favorite things and food. Sometimes it gets competitive when families try to out-decorate each other.”

Ofrendas or altars, are constructed in the families’ homes and are also decorated with flowers, skulls, bread and water.

Student volunteers and BESO members set up an altar with a serape, sugar skulls, flowers, a papel picado banner and pictures chosen by the volunteers of people they wish to honor.

“Anyone could pass by and leave pictures,” Ruby Arriaga, activities coordinator for student involvement, said.

A picture of Robert Grays was displayed among others, including Selena Quintanilla and Carrie Fisher.

“It’s important for students to get to know cultures and traditions,” Ramirez said. “Día de Los Muertos is not Mexican Halloween.”

Maria Garcia, theater and criminology freshman, said Día de Los Muertos is meant to feel closer to them instead of mourning.

She said it’s important for students to learn about the celebration because they may want to join in on the celebration, but it may not be for everyone.

D’Aron Clayton, pre-dental biology senior and low-budget no-budget co-chair for UPB, said he was fascinated by the event when he heard about it being in the works. He said it’s important to know about all the cultures MSU has to offer.

Other students, including Yerasly Duran, nursing freshman, shared Clayton’s sentiments.

“It’s important to celebrate different cultural holidays especially in a college where you are getting to meet people from many different backgrounds,” Duran said, “By getting to know more of people’s traditions it helps to fully understand each other.”

Día de Los Muertos 2017

MSU students and guest participate making flower headbands during the Dia de los Muertos event held by multiple organizations in the Atrium, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. Photo by Francisco Martinez
MSU students and guest participate making flower headbands during the Dia de los Muertos event held by multiple organizations in the Atrium, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. Photo by Francisco Martinez
Brenda Adame, bilingual education sophomore, and Patricia Ramirez, bilingual education senior, welcome MSU students and guest during the Dia de los Muertos event held by multiple organizations in the Atrium, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. Photo by Francisco Martinez
Brenda Adame, bilingual education sophomore, and Patricia Ramirez, bilingual education senior, welcome MSU students and guest during the Dia de los Muertos event held by multiple organizations in the Atrium, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. Photo by Francisco Martinez
MSU students and guest participate making flower headbands during the Dia de los Muertos event held by multiple organizations in the Atrium, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. Photo by Francisco Martinez
MSU students and guest participate making flower headbands during the Dia de los Muertos event held by multiple organizations in the Atrium, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. Photo by Francisco Martinez
Mario Ramirez, student involvement interim director, decorates a skull shaped cookie during the Dia de los Muertos event held by multiple organizations in the Atrium, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. Photo by Francisco Martinez
Mario Ramirez, student involvement interim director, decorates a skull shaped cookie during the Dia de los Muertos event held by multiple organizations in the Atrium, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. Photo by Francisco Martinez
Display for the Dia de los Muertos event held by multiple organizations in the Atrium where food and drinks were provided, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. Photo by Francisco Martinez
Display for the Dia de los Muertos event held by multiple organizations in the Atrium where food and drinks were provided, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. Photo by Francisco Martinez
Rutth Mercado, mass communication junior, paints Fatima Chavez, attendee, face during the Dia de los Muertos event held by multiple organizations in the Atrium, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. Photo by Francisco Martinez
Rutth Mercado, mass communication junior, paints Fatima Chavez, attendee, face during the Dia de los Muertos event held by multiple organizations in the Atrium, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. Photo by Francisco Martinez
MSU students and guest sit down watching The Book of Life movie during the Dia de los Muertos event held by multiple organizations in the Atrium, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. Photo by Francisco Martinez
MSU students and guest sit down watching The Book of Life movie during the Dia de los Muertos event held by multiple organizations in the Atrium, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. Photo by Francisco Martinez