At the corner of mourning and celebrating

Members of the Mexican American Studies Club helped present the Day of the Dead celebration to the UNC community (The Mirror/Paige Murray)

In life there is a time to mourn, a time to be happy and a time to celebrate: Dia de los Muertos is a time of celebrating every aspect of one’s life.

The University of Northern Colorado Mexican American Studies department celebrated Dia de los Muertos, meaning Day of the Dead, Wednesday evening at the UC.

More often than not, there is mourning and sorrow when thinking of lost loved ones, but the Day of the Dead is meant to celebrate the memories and life of loved ones. The Mexican American culture celebrates ones life as a way to honor their memory. It is a joyous day because though they lost someone they loved on Earth, the heavens gained someone and that person is in a better place.

“Our holiday is just to celebrate and honor the people who have passed away by showing loving and joy,said Emely Contreras, the president of the Mexican American Studies Club.

The event had food, music and presentations talking about the history of Dia de los Muertos. Students even shared the history of well-known artists and poets and how they contributed to Dia de los Muertos.


Families and friends filled the Panorama Room to partake in the presentations and celebration. Some even had to sit on the floor or against a wall because all the seating had been taken.

“Honestly, putting together the event was kind of stressful just because we only had a few days to do it, but it was just beautiful how all members were trying to work together to create this culture event where we can share the culture of Mexicans,Contreras said.

The evening began with spanish music and food. Students and families walked around the room examining the colorful and cultured booths while enjoying a meal with fresh fruit and sandwiches and each others company. Others laughed while taking goofy pictures at the photo booth with sugar skull masks made of paper.

Students in the Mexican American Studies program and club each presented for about three minutes at various booths they assembled. Each booth included its own colorful and vibrant visual aids and interactive activities. Many of the presenters painted sugar skulls on their faces to bring a more festive feel.

The first presentation shared a little on how the Day of the Dead came to be. The tradition of celebrating those who had passed began by the Aztecs about 3,000 years ago; one of the Aztec’s many goddesses created the holiday in remembrance of those who had passed.

Other booths included various poets and artists that contributed to the celebration of the Day of the Dead. Poems honoring the event were read in both English and Spanish.

One group also presented the modern day celebration of  the Day of the Dead. In traditional celebrations, there were places where people would bring offerings to place on an altar. Today, an altar can include some type of religious symbol, food, candles and photographs of whomever was lost. Most families may include other symbols and objects to offer at the altar as well, mostly things that remind them of their loved ones.

Dia de los Muertos is a way to bring people together in a time that most would consider hard to find the good by celebrating life rather than mourning death.


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