Branden del Rio
As some may already know, Halloween is not a widely celebrated holiday in Mexico. What is widely celebrated is Dia de Los Muertos on Nov. 2. And to honor the holiday, the Latino Student Forum set up a traditional altar.
Beginning on Wednesday, the LSF set out two tables on the corner of Third and C Street. The ornately decorated tables were used as both an altar and a writing surface for students who colored pictures of sugar skulls. Students dedicated some of the pictures they colored to people they were close to who have died. The colorful pictures had the names of the people who they were dedicated to either on the top or around the skull.
“There are a lot of students at the University of La Verne. It’s a big party of the culture and in Mexico they don’t really celebrate Halloween,” Gabriel Valdivias, sophomore political science major, said.
Dia de los Muertos, literally translated to “Day of the Dead” in English, takes place annually on Nov. 2 in conjunction with the religious holiday, All Saints’ Day. The celebrants honor deceased family and friends by putting together an altar to celebrate the dead.
The altar is traditionally covered with a cloth and covered with pictures of the deceased. Offerings, called ofrendas, are left for the dead, including Mexican sweet bread, flowers, sugar skulls, candles and many pictures.
People often place the deceased’s favorite meal, snack, food or beverage on the table, encouraging their spirit to visit.
The altar on the corner of Third and C Street was authentic as those in Mexico. Behind the altar there was green, white and red papel picado, or thin tissue paper with an elaborately cut design. Also on the table were candles depicting images of the Virgin Mary and a dove, sweet bread, floral arrangements, sugar skulls and framed pictures of important Latino icons such as Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and Rita Moreno. Each silver framed picture had a brief story of the life of the icon.
Chavez’s and Huerta’s frames told the story of their lives and accomplishments as workers and for civil rights.
There was a display board in front of the tables which explained the traditions of Dia de los Muertos and included pictures of the event from previous years.
“I know that Dia de los Muertos is not really a celebration of death, but of the life of the dead,” Shannon Garcia, junior sociology major, said. “It makes me think about the people close to me and gives me a sense that life is still very much alive,”
The table stood until the celebration was over. It attracted passersby on a daily basis.
Branden del Rio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.