Wellesley’s Dia de los Muertos celebration is coming up soon on November 1st! The event features authentic Mexican food, a large altar where photos and mementos of Loved Ones are placed, a Mariachi band, and face painting.
The jubilant mood of the event can be easily seen in the decorations. Papel picado, cut tissue paper, show traditional designs as they hang like banners across the room. The brightly colored skulls are a reflection of celebration and remembrance. Each skull is carefully formed and painted with designs that hold a lot of sentimental value. It is upsetting to see others use this as a costume when it holds so much significance. However, we welcome everyone to come and learn more about the culture and tradition that creates amazing events like this one.
The food is always an anticipated part of the celebration. It reminds us that no matter if we are far from home, there is a taste of the familiar, even here at Wellesley. This event is always a highlight of the semester as it is one of the largest events thrown by the Advisor to Latinx Students, Mared Alicea-Westort. As always, we look for help serving food, decorating, and painting faces. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information on how you can help this tradition thrive at Wellesley.
One common misconception about Dia de Los Muertos is that it is a Latinx-wide tradition. While Wellesley’s celebration is more in tune to the Mexican traditions, different countries in Latin America have their own version. We hope as Wellesley’s Latinx community grows and develops, we can add more celebrations from different Latin American countries to reflect the various forms Latinx culture takes and be able to share our traditions with the wider community.
With that, we share some of our personal experiences with you.
Every Halloween night, my mom would take me trick-or-treating. Down the street, there would always be a shrine of remembrance. Candleflames surrounding the pictures sputtered in the wind, but managed to stay lit. Despite never having a picture to add, going to the shrine each year made me feel emotional.
For some reason, this family always celebrated on Halloween, but we normally celebrated on November 2nd. The order was always Halloween, then All Saints Day, then All Souls Day. On All Souls Day (Dia de los Muertos), the Mexican side of my family would always have a party, whether it was a school night or not (though we ended our festivities early). There was always champurrado (a chocolate-based drink) and pan de los muertos (sugary bread). Candles and pictures of our dearly departed were arranged on the altar. Occasionally, people would walk over to the altar, but for the most part, it was a regular party. We just celebrated with various breads instead of cake.
In boarding school, I went four years without a formal celebration for Dia de los Muertos. It was a hard transition for me. I’m truly thankful that we have an actual celebration with proper food and proper decorations, thanks to Mared and Mezcla! – Allie Van Horn
As a Guatemalteca, I grew up celebrating the holiday over three days. My mother would make the traditional dish of Fiambre rojo, which is a cold-cut dish which is made with beets and is soaked in caldiillo, which is a vinegar mixture used in order to preserve the dish. It is , and usually taken to the grave site to be eaten by the family alongside their lLoved oOne.
I have fond memories of my sisters and I helping my mom prepare the dish as it is very complicated and intricate. The five of us each had a job, whether it was cutting the radishes into flowers, slicing the hardboiled eggs, cutting up the chorizo, or arranging the dish’s ingredients to make the dish more appealing. I don’t have that many happy memories eating it, however because I didn’t like beets when I was younger. I thought it more fun to decorate than to actually eat the dish. It was always a fun time and always made me feel like I was in touch with my heritage.