Día de los Muertos event


Andres Sanchez / Clarion

A student paints a sugar skull in the Truax Campus Intercultural Exchange as part of the Día de los Muertos event.

Lillian Coppelman, Editor in Chief

Día de los Muertos is a holiday that celebrates those who have passed and is a way to show people that death is not scary, but instead is something that can be celebrated. With bright colors, happy music, and loving memories, this holiday is something that holds lots of significance to most students with Mexican heritage. Día de los Muertos is often confused for Halloween, and despite both holidays sharing some similarities, such as costumes and parades, Día de los Muertos is about family and celebrating lost loved ones. 

Last week at Madison College students got together to paint sugar skulls for the occasion. The skulls are painted with bright colors and are there to represent a departed loved one. These skulls are used to decorate the altar along with marigolds, food, drinks and valued possessions.  

These altars are referred to as ofrendas, which have several levels representing the different stages of existence. Most common ofrendas have two levels that represent heaven and the living world (Cielo and Tierra respectively), though some ofrendas may have three or seven levels.  

The ofrendas are decorated with several offerings for the departed loved ones. Each offering contains symbols and elements that help guide the spirits from the world of the dead to spend time with their living loved ones. Marigolds are placed on and around the altar as paths to help guide the souls back home to the offerings. The offerings consist of several different items, such as a dead one’s favorite dish, items that the departed cherished or represents them, salt to purify the souls so they may return the next year, incense to cleanse the place of evil spirits, candles to light the way and photographs of the departed loved ones. 

Día de los Muertos is often observed on Nov. 2, though the celebration typically begins on Oct. 28 with each day dedicated to a different kind of death, such as children who died before being baptized or people who died in a tragic way. 

Día de los Muertos is a day that celebrates lost loved ones and lets their memories be alive. It is especially important as students to learn about other cultures to be respectful and to create an understanding with eachother. 

“I think it’s important to get to learn about other cultures,” Madison College student Luis Hernandez-Ponce said. 

“There’s a lot of diversity on campus. I feel like it’s important to get to see the different aspects of different cultures and celebrations.”