For many, the first days of November usually entail unwinding from a Halloween festivities high and appreciating fall’s beauty. But for members of the Latinx, Chicanx and Hispanic communities, it’s Día de los Muertos — Day of the Dead.
Día de los Muertos is a Mesoamerican holiday, traditionally celebrated by indigenous people, that pays tribute to deceased loved ones. The first and second day of each November serves as a time for the spirits of deceased loved ones to come back and visit their living relatives. The dead are welcomed through altars made by their family, which often include items such as food, flowers, blankets or table runners, candles, calaveras — skulls — and a multitude of photos featuring the deceased loved ones. Each altar is unique and special, but they all share in an abundance of colors, pleasant smells and happy memories.
Pacific University’s Hispanic Heritage Student Association (HHSA) created their annual altar for Día de los Muertos last week in celebration. Members came together to create paper flowers, calaveras and other decorations, as well as to assemble the altar, over a brief two days. Senior Alexander Ibarra, Vice President of HHSA says that the altar, for him, is a form of appreciation for Mexican culture and history. He said it’s a piece of identity to him, and that, “identity is what makes people human.”
Ibarra’s favorite part of creating this altar was being able to spend time with other HHSA members. “Displays like this allow other cultural clubs to express their identity and allow others to appreciate their history,” he echoed.
HHSA club advisor, professor Victor Rodriguez, also helped to see the altar come to life. He explained that altars give viewers a chance to think introspectively about their spirituality and to consider life’s meaning and purpose.
“The altar allows you to see the spiritual part of life and death,” Rodriguez said. “It allows us to ask; what is the meaning of being together in memory?”
His favorite part of helping the HHSA make an altar is being able to see how impactful this piece of culture can be, not only to Mexicans, but to people of all ethnic backgrounds. Students and faculty members interested in visiting and viewing the altar can find it located in the lobby of Scott Hall now until Monday, Nov. 11.