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Saint Mary’s celebrates ‘Dia de los Muertos’

| Thursday, October 29, 2015

Junior Mariana Davalos said La Fuerza, a student club at Saint Mary’s, decided to celebrate “Dia de los Muertos,” or Day of the Dead, this week even though the celebration actually falls on the first two days of November.

Saint Mary's students celebrate Dia de los Muertos with La Fuerza, a Hispanic cultural club, by decorating candy skulls.Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer
Saint Mary’s students celebrate Dia de los Muertos with La Fuerza, a Hispanic cultural club, by decorating candy skulls.

La Fuerza’s mission is to educate the community on Hispanic cultures and issues.

Davalos, vice president of La Fuerza, said the club hosts a variety of events from year to year, including an annual celebration of Dia de Los Muertos to help Hispanic students share their culture with the rest of Saint Mary’s.

“We want to have the same traditions since we’re not at home,” she said. “[Dia de los Muertos] is a very family-oriented celebration, and we want to make represent our [Latina] culture by bringing it to school.”

Davalos said her family has their own way of celebrating Dia de los Muertos.

“At my house, we have a photo of the Virgin Mary in our entryway and during this time, my mom will put a photo of her mother on a table with fresh flowers,” she said.

Starting Wednesday, the group created an “ofrenda,” or altar, in the Student Center Atrium. Davalos said students have the opportunity to add photos of their loved ones to the ofrenda.

“In Mexico, people visit cemeteries and decorate graves with flowers and candles, but away from home, we create altars to remember our loved ones,” she said.

Wednesday evening, the group hosted a Spanish Mass in Holy Spirit Chapel in Le Mans Hall. Davalos said there will be an altar in the chapel to remind students about the week’s celebrations.

Thursday during lunch, students can decorate sugar skulls or make “papel picado,” paper designs to decorate the altar. Davalos said the club bought more sugar skulls this year, after running out of them last year.

“Some girls decorate in honor of loved ones that passed away, and other girls just really enjoy decorating them,” she said.

A new addition to the traditional “Dia de los Muertos” celebration is the showing of a film, “The Book of Life,” on Friday. Davalos said the film showing is co-sponsored by Student Diversity Board and is an animated love story that provides students with a fun, engaging way to learn about “Dia de los Muertos.”

Davalos said it’s important students know that La Fuerza is not exclusive to Latina students.

“It’s just interesting to know about other cultures. For us [members of La Fuerza], it’s enriching in a way — we have the chance to explain our culture and be involved with other students and to share a moment together,” she said.

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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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