Día De Los Muertos: The celebration of life and connecting the dead with the living

Payton Willis

Día De Los Muertos is the celebration of life and connecting the dead with the living. Instead of mourning, death is celebrated and families have the opportunity to remember the good aspects of their relatives’ lives. As stated on the Día De Los Muertos official holiday page, “Many of us see death as a sad event, but those who celebrate Day of the Dead view death as a welcomed part of life.”

Día De Los Muertos is a large part of Mexican culture and is often celebrated with Calaveras, or sugar skulls, yellow and orange marigolds and ofrendas. Ofrendas are altars made in honor of family members who have passed and display memories from their time on earth.

Augustana is taking part in Día De Los Muertos as well. LatinX Unidos held a celebration on Nov. 1 for the holiday. They placed an ofrenda in the Brew with different festivities. These events gave students opportunities to become involved in other cultures’ events and honor the dead in their own way.

Getting involved in Día De Los Muertos first requires one to understand the cultural significance. Celebrating Día De Los Muertos is a special cultural holiday and is a special way to remember the dead. Unfortunately, with this holiday falling so close to Halloween, there is also a lot of confusion between the ideas of cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation.

“Cultural appropriation is going out of your way and doing sugar skull makeup when you do not identify as Latinx, especially if it is directed as a Halloween costume, because Halloween and Day of the Dead are drastically different,” Stephanie Carreno, president of LatinX Unidos, said.

Instead of culturally appropriating, students are encouraged to take part in cultural appreciation. “Cultural appreciation is attending the event on Monday and participating in the activities we will be having,” Carreno said.

Jen Juneau, a reporter for People magazine, also gave insight on how people can get involved in Día De Los Muertos without giving the sense of cultural appropriation. In her piece she references a blogger for Latinaish named Tracey Lopez. Latinaish is a popular blog that talks about issues in Latin America. Lopez explains this topic in her interview with Juneau very well with “examples of how to honor the holiday without actually adopting it,” like visiting festivals and museums to observe it and educating yourself on its rich history.

Other ways to honor Día De Los Muertos include ensuring that anything that you buy is “made by Latinxs or Latin American artisans” that “give back to the people who deserve it,” Lopez said. It’s awesome for people to get involved in celebrating the dead, but we should be respectful to the cultures that practice it as well.

Día De Los Muertos is an amazing event to be a part of and learn more about. Augustana had Día De Los Muertos events on Monday, Nov. 1. The local art museum, Figge, will have an exhibit until Nov. 14 and will include artwork from ofrendas of the past and local Mexican culture in relation to Día De Los Muertos.