La Casa Cultural Latina Presents Day of the Dead

Death and the deceased usually do not inspire happy thoughts. Ghosts, zombies and haunted houses are images often associated with the afterlife. For others, though, remembering the dead is a cause for celebration rather than mourning.

On Nov. 1 and 2, La Casa Cultural Latina celebrated El Dia de los Muertos, which translates to “The Day of the Dead.” This Latin–American holiday fell on the same day as the Catholic holiday All Saints’ Day, which took place Nov. 1, and All Souls’ Day, which took place Nov. 2.

Keeping with the tradition of previous years, La Casa opened up the festivities to the public by hosting an event Oct. 29 in hopes of spreading interest of the holiday while also honoring the dead. This year, they co-sponsored the event with the student organization M.E.Ch.A., or Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan.

Jonathan Brito, sophomore in DGS and member of the student staff at La Casa, said the holiday is not necessarily for mourning, but rather to celebrate the lives of the deceased.

“The myth is that on this day the spirits are going to come back and be one with you,” Brito said. “So why would a spirit want to come back and mourn with you?”

Brito said he was devoted to making this event open to anyone who was curious or just wanted to stop by.

“We talked to the Asian house, African American house, and other houses to see if they wanted to bring pictures of their relatives and bring them to the altar,” Brito said.

He said this is why La Casa’s aim was to stay away from serious, traditional rituals in hopes of keeping spectators intrigued and entertained.

“We want to make it as inclusive as possible,” Brito said.

Activities at the events included pumpkin carving, sugar skull decorating and dominoes.

The eight student staff members are responsible for coordinating the majority of the events that La Casa hosts, including El Dia de los Muertos.

“Everything basically trickles down to us to organize,” Brito said.

Although at times it might be a lot of work, Brito said he is learning a lot about entertaining and putting on events.

Cynthia Ledesma, junior in LAS and La Casa staff member, said she viewed this event as a chance for others to learn about a culture by directly interacting.

“It will be a time to educate each other not only about the holiday, but about larger political struggles,” Ledesma said. “There will be traditional ‘altares’ displayed at La Casa dedicated to those who have died due to a social injustice.”

Compared with traditional celebrations at home, Brito and Ledesma both said the atmosphere will be much more laid back, as they want people of all backgrounds to feel welcome.

On Oct. 29, there were altars set up on the Quad to advertise and spark interest in curious students.

“I noticed that a lot of people were interested to see what was going on,” said Laura Roman, sophomore in DGS and member of La Casa.