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Papel Picados waved through the air as music filled the University Union (UU) and colorful ofrendas transformed concrete steps into a vibrant celebration of Dia de los Muertos.
Dia de Los Muertos is a holiday that is celebrated across multiple regions of Mexico and Latin America and takes place on Nov. 1-2 every year. Creating ofrendas for people who have passed is at the core of this holiday, giving their loved ones a chance to celebrate them.
The most familiar symbol of Dia de Los Muertos are calaveras, or skeletons, which appear in all sorts of places during the holiday on candied sweets, parade masks, dolls and more. Calaveras candies are meant to represent death through sweetness and nostalgia.
The Multicultural Center hosted a Dia de los Muertos event, inviting students and clubs to set up their ofrendas Tuesday morning and display them throughout the day. The Multicultural Center had a booth in the UU along with posters and signs explaining the significance and traditions of Dia de los Muertos.
Senior city and regional planning student Pamela Arciniega arrived at the UU mid-morning on Tuesday and began setting up her ofrenda. Joined by two friends, Arciniega laid out each item carefully, including a paper altar she had made to honor her friend and sorority sister. As she filled the steps with candy bars, bananas and oranges, she said that these offerings were her family and friends’ favorites and that she hoped they would enjoy them today.
“This is my first year celebrating because I have not had any close friends or family pass until this year,” Arciniega said. “Today, I am celebrating and honoring them.”
While individuals were invited to set up their own ofrendas, clubs also set up group ofrendas, offering a space for members to join the festivities.
Jesus Amador, a plant science senior and member of the Latinx Cultural Association added his own special touch to the ofrenda, including photos, flowers and treats.
“Today is really all about remembrance,” Amador said. “It’s best to spend the day with them at their graveyard, praying.”
For Josebet Luna, an architecture senior, Dia de los Muertos is a part of her family’s culture and traditions. As Luna described each component of her ofrenda, she explained the importance of the candles, flowers and pan de muerto bread.
“They light the path for the people who have passed to come and enjoy their favorite meal,” Luna said.