Grace Ciabattoni, '21, paints a sugar skull on Emily Lindblad, '21, during the Day of the Dead Celebration on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019 in the Williams Global Commons. The Day of the Dead Celebration is a tradition usually celebrated in Mexico to remember the lives of family and friends who have died.(Sally Gu/B&W Staff)

Day of the Dead celebration fosters connection with home for students

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The Latin American and Latino Studies department, Spanish club and Latino Student Alliance hosted a Day of the Dead celebration on Oct. 31. The annual event offered food, refreshments, music and face painting. 

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a holiday traditionally celebrated in Mexico to remember and honor loved ones who have passed away. It lasts from Oct. 31, to Nov. 2, and involves praying, visiting the graves of relatives and building altars in their memory. The holiday also includes dancing, parades and festivals. It is considered to be a celebration of life, rather than a time of sadness or grieving. 

“Day of the Dead is a metaphorical celebration of the way in which death and life are a cycle,” said Hugo Ceron-Anaya, an assistant professor of sociology and the coordinator for the event. “There are skeletons, but unlike Halloween, the images of the skeletons are full of colors and flowers.”

Ceron-Anaya said the point is not to fear the skeletons, but rather see them as a representation of both sides of life. This celebration is a way for students to remember their families and honor their deceased relatives, even if they are far from home. 

Yasmin Cortes, ‘20, said the event was an accurate representation of how the holiday is typically celebrated in Mexico.

“My parents are from Mexico, and I was born here, so I’m a first-gen Mexican-American,” Cortes said. “It’s nice to be away from home and still connect with my roots through these types of events.” 

She said she would encourage students of any cultural background to attend events and learn about traditions from other countries.

Killa Heredia, ‘23, said the event made her reminisce about her home and her family.  “It made me really nostalgic, but in a good way.”

Heredia said Lehigh’s cultural events are a good way to share your culture and traditions with students of other backgrounds. 

Mireya Tenorio, ‘23, said the event allowed her to connect with Hispanic professors for the first time since coming to Lehigh, and she enjoyed being able to speak Spanish with them.

Tenorio said even though her family doesn’t do very much to celebrate the Day of the Dead at home, she enjoyed the event as a way to connect to her own culture. 

“The music is what reminds me of home the most because this is the music that we listen to,” Tenorio said. “It reminds me of my family.”

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