A celebration of life, death and culture took place on the Utah State University campus Nov 2.
The USU LatinX Creative Society hosted a Día De Los Muertos procession for the third year in a row. This celebration is rooted deep in tradition and is celebrated by many Latinos across the world.
Crecencio Lopez, a USU Spanish professor, said “This is a tradition that has been celebrated for over 3000 years. First in Pre-columbian times then the Spanish came and it was a mix of both cultures. In pre-columbian times Aztecs celebrated for entire month of August and then when the Spanish came it was a blend of both cultures. We celebrate the belief that our ancestors never leave this world and they come back every year to be with us.”
This ancient celebration was brought to life by students as they paraded through campus.
The procession began with a blessing provided by club member Lizette Cruz. Traditional music accompanied the group as they made their way through campus. Those who participated in the procession sang along to songs of the dead such as “De Colores” (The Colors), “Cielito Lindo” (Lovely Sweetheart), and “Volver Volver” (Return Return).
Cruz said costumes are a very important cultural aspect of this celebration.
“For my costumes It’s a feeling of how you want to celebrate. I chose something that took me back home, colorful and cultural. Everything that reminded me of back home,” she said.
Students could be seen with faces painted as skeletons and bright colored outfits adorned with Marigold flowers.
“Your costume doesn’t have to be expense or glamourous,” said Karina Hernandez, a junior. “Do some research on the symbolism. There is history behind all of it.”
One symbol of Día De Los Muertos is the character, La Catrina. La Catrina is the lady of death. La Catrina can be seen in many depictions of Día De los Muertos as the skeleton of a woman with a large fancy hat. At the USU procession La Catrina was dressed in white with a black umbrella.
For professor Crecencio Lopez it’s all about getting into character. Lopez was dressed as the Catrin, the husband of the Catrina.
“I think about how I want to portray this character in public. I think about the clothes that the Catrin would wear. He’s well dressed and represents a person that was rich, but when death came to him it was the ultimate equalizer. No one escapes death.” Lopez said.
All students were welcome to dress up in Día De Los Muertos inspired costumes.
“Make it you. Make it unique,” said Christina Carreño, a senior.
Jonathan Dursteler, global communications major, was one of the students who joined the procession.
“From a non hispanic perspective I believe that this holiday is a way to celebrate the people before us,” he said. “It’s not my personal beliefs but it is interesting to come be a part of it.”
Jenna Riches, sophomore in Spanish, said it was fun to participate in the procession.
“For me it is a day to remember where we came from and give our ancestors the honor they deserve,” she said.
Along with the procession, there were traditional altars, or ofrendas, on display in the Taggart Student Center ballroom. The altars had items such as pictures of ancestors, flowers, food and beverages.
Ketzel Morales, a junior, said the altars are used to invite the dead back with with everything they liked in life.
“At midnight the dead come and partake in the food and other things that they enjoyed while they were alive.”
Karina Hernandez, a member of the LatinX Creative Society, stressed the importance of this event to the Latino community.
“This excellent opportunity for students to be part of a culture,” she said. “There’s not always opportunities like this to reconnect to your roots. We want to make connections with other cultures to grow as a community.”
“It empowers Latinos and those that are not used to seeing themselves celebrating the Day of The Dead,” he said. “We specifically set up the procession so we can have have as much visibility as possible. It’s all about Latinos to empower through culture.”
To check out other events, USU LatinX Creative Society events, or to become involved, students can find them on Facebook at “USU LatinX Creative Society.”