Millikin Celebrates Día de los Muertos

On Monday Nov. 2, students involved in Professor Liz Cabrera’s Spanish classes and members of multiple Hispanic cultures celebrated Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead.

Día de los Muertos is a day where family members and friends celebrate the lives of the dead by honoring their memories. Parades and celebrations are some of the ways that they honor the memories of those who have died. The holiday is a large part of Mexican culture as well as many South American countries.

Día de los Muertos is believed to be a combination of Spanish-Catholic and Pre-Colombian traditions, dating all the way back to the 16th century. It actually didn’t become a prominent part of Northern Mexican culture until the 1960s due to the Church perceiving that the holiday was developed from a mixture of contradictory beliefs in Catholic Christianity.

People wear extravagant clothing and make-up (which isn’t actually a usual part of the celebration, as make-up is usually worn by tourists,) and make intricate sugar skulls to commemorate their dead. It’s very important, especially in Mexican culture, that the dead are remembered. “You’re only dead when you’re forgotten,” is a popular saying in Mexico.

Día de los Muertos is believed to be the day that the spirits of the dead come to visit their families and friends. Altars are made and adorned with gifts and foods and marigolds to greet the spirits when they arrive. The day (or days, according to Mexican culture – it goes from November first to November second,) is when people feel closer to the ones that they lost.

One of the traditional foods for Día de los Muertos is Pan de Muerto, which are made with marzipan heads and left as offerings at the altars. The altars themselves usually contain marigolds, incense and candles which are used to lead the dead back to where their families reside. Día de los Muertos had become one of the most celebrated holidays and traditions in Spanish countries all over the world and continues to spread its unique way of honoring the dead to the rest of the world.

Día de los Muertos here at Millikin University was a success in bringing students together to honor and remember the ones that they’ve lost. The students created ornaments themselves.

“They couldn’t believe that they could make them,” said Professor Liz Cabrera. “They really loved the activity because they felt more connected not only to the students here at Millikin, but the staff as well. One of the activities in those countries is visiting friends and relatives to celebrate the dead.”

It goes to show, that Día de los Muertos was a success here at Millikin and we look forward to celebrating it again next year.