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La Fuerza celebrates Dia de los Muertos

| Thursday, October 30, 2014

DiadelosmuertosCaitlyn Jordan
On Tuesday evening, La Fuerza built an “ofrenda” in the Student Center Atrium to honor friends and family who have died as part of “Dia de los Muertos” [Day of the Dead] celebrations. La Fuerza is a student club at Saint Mary’s whose mission is to educate the community on Hispanic cultures and issues.

Sophomore Maria Hernandez said the purpose of the “ofrenda,” or altar, is to honor departed souls with items they enjoyed during their earthly lives. Items like favorite foods, flowers and candles adorn the “ofrenda” to commemorate the lives of loved ones.

Students gathered Wednesday afternoon to decorate sugar skulls in the Student Center Atrium as a way to represent the departed souls and add them to the “ofrenda.”

“Sugar is produced in the masses in Mexico, and the indigenous people learned from the friars how to make art with the sugar they produced,” Hernandez said. “As a result of economic struggles, they created sugar skulls to adorn the ‘ofrendas’ or gravestones of their loved ones.”

The Dia de los Muertos activities continued Wednesday evening in the Student Center Atrium with the creation of “papel picado” [paper designs] and “pan de muerto” [bread of the dead] to adorn and finalize the “ofrenda.”

These events are part of bringing the Mexican tradition to the Saint Mary’s campus and educating those who are unfamiliar with the traditions, Hernandez said.

“Mexican families celebrate Dia de los Muertos because they believe the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on Oct. 31, and the spirits of deceased children are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours,” Hernandez said.

It is also believed that on Nov. 2, the spirits of the deceased adults come down to enjoy the festivities prepared for them, Hernandez said.

“These two dates are used to celebrate the lives of the loved ones who have passed away because rather than mourning the deaths of these persons, Mexicans choose to celebrate the lives that these individuals lived,” Hernandez said.

Dia de los Muertos is an important part of Mexican tradition, and Hernandez said it’s important for diverse populations to participate in these events to learn about another culture. It is also a way for Mexican students to remember their roots and heritage.

Hernandez said learning about other cultures often makes people reflect more deeply upon their own cultures. La Fuerza’s goal is to reach out to and advocate for the Latino population, as well as educate the Saint Mary’s community about the traditions and issues that impact the Latino community.

“La Fuerza puts on these events to showcase the Latino culture to persons of other backgrounds, as well as remind us of our own culture,” Hernandez said. “[Dia de Los Muertos] is particularly an important holiday because this is a time to remember our loved ones who have passed away.”

La Fuerza is a club guided by the philosophy that “a house divided cannot stand,” Hernandez said. What divides people is lack of cultural knowledge, so the club seeks to counter ignorance with Latin-American cultural education,  she added.

The “ofrenda” will remain in the Student Center Atrium for students to view and remember the lives of their loved ones during the remainder of the week.


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About Haleigh Ehmsen

A senior at Saint Mary's, Haleigh is majoring in Communication Studies and English Literature & Writing. She serves as the Saint Mary's editor and enjoys coffee, guacamole and good books.

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