Dia de Los Muertos event to celebrate lives of dead Nov. 1

In the spirit of celebrating Día de Los Muertos — Day of the Dead — the University Programming Board and Bilingual Education Student Organization will host an event to celebrate the lives of the dead on Nov. 1 in the Clark Student Center atrium at 6 p.m.

Día de Los Muertos is celebrated every year on the first and second days of November. It is a day made to celebrate, instead of mourn, the lives of passed loved ones.

“It’s a day to gather with friends and family to remember their family members, or friends that have passed away. It’s a fun-filled holiday to celebrate life and remembrance,” Ruby Arriaga, activities coordinator for student involvement, said.

The holiday, which is celebrated mostly in Mexico on Nov. 1 and 2, is like a family reunion, but dead ancestors are the guests of honor.

Though the subject of the holiday is somber, Day of the Dead is considered a brightly-colored and joyous celebration.

Member of BESO and bilingual education senior Patricia Ramirez said although the celebration is a Mexican tradition, anyone can relate to as we all have experienced what it is like to lose someone.

“The significance of Día de Los Muertos is to commemorate family members or friends who have died. People with Mexican roots do this by creating an altar with offerings of some of their favorite things. Anyone can relate to it if they have lost someone in their life. As a community, we have lost a Mustang, Robert Grays,” Ramirez said.

Plans for the day are made throughout the year, including gathering the goods to be offered to the dead. During the three-day period, families usually clean and decorate graves. Most visit the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried and decorate their graves with ofrendas, or alters, which often include orange Mexican marigolds called cempasuchil. In modern Mexico, the marigold is sometimes called Flor de Muerto, or Flower of the Dead. These flowers are thought to attract souls of the dead to the offerings.

This year the celebration is aimed at providing insight into Mexican heritage and inform inquiring minds on what the day really is about.

“Día de los Muertos is not a morbid day or Mexican Halloween. It is paying respect to the people we loved that have departed. This celebration provides insight into a different culture and tradition based in Mexican heritage. This is important as we make current students feel at home as we strive to be a Hispanic serving institution,” Ramirez said.

Students who were unaware that an event of this nature exist are excited to mask in the experience.

Accounting senior Karema Brookes said she is completely enthralled and in awe of an event of this nature.

“I’ve never heard of this holiday until recently. I just find it fascinating that a day like this exist to honor our loved ones in a celebratory manner. I can’t wait to attend,” Brookes said.

All students are welcomed at the event and encouraged to learn more about the holiday and its significance.

“We hope that students learn the holiday and its significance. It’s not a scary holiday, but a celebration,” Arriaga said.