On November 1, St. John’s celebrated All Saints’ Day and began the celebrations for Día De Los Muertos. In some Hispanic cultures, Día De Los Muertos is a holiday celebrated on November 1 and 2. Its focus is on remembering and celebrating the lives of those who have passed away. November 1 honors the children, the angelitos (little angels), who have passed away, and November 2 is dedicated to the adults. Each year on November 2, a Mass is held on the border between the United States and Mexico. The Mass takes part on both sides in the desert, where too many immigrants have lost their lives. Love for all is the focus, not separation or exclusion.
The celebration is a combination of the Aztec beliefs with Catholic colonial influence. While the prominence of the skull and skeletons as symbols within the holiday may be behind the confusion, the aspect of death within el Día de Los Muertos is actually a part of the celebration; it is not a sad occasion. The altar is a collection of pictures of deceased loved ones, offerings, candles, cut paper, bread of the dead (pan de Muertos), and marigolds.
The Latino Student Union collaborated closely with the Latin Club and Mr. Stephen Salkeld’s classes. They put together an altar to celebrate the Latin American holy day and invited other students to celebrate the lives of their loved ones who passed away. Members of the Union and the club met to discuss and learn about Día de Los Muertos and made giant paper flowers for the altar instead of marigolds. Students in Mr. Salkeld’s classes made mini altars to honor and remember their loved ones. Spanish 1 classes made cut paper (papel picado) and decorated Ms. Taylor Sims’ classroom. Spanish upper-level courses analyzed the meaning of the celebration and the offerings as the products, practices, and perspectives of Hispanic cultures. Students discussed the Hispanic countries very distinct ways of welcoming back and honoring their deceased loved ones, while maintaining a spiritual time of family union and reflection.