CSS Celebrates Día De Los Muertos

Latinx Student Union Hosts Sugar Skull Event

Heidi Voigt
hvoigt@css.edu

On Nov. 1 at the College of St. Scholastica, nearly 30 students gathered around a pile of sugary lumps in the Intercultural Center. The night began with a short presentation on Día de los Muertos by Latinx Student Union and quickly transitioned to an edible crafts project.

Students were given balls of cream cheese and sugar and tasked with forming it into a skull and decorating the skull with icing and various sprinkles. The room was full of laughs and curious faces as students attempted to create the semblance of a human skull with no examples. The end products were a mixture of tasty and ridiculous.

In the beginning of November, thousands of monarch butterflies return to their wintering lands. To the inhabitants of several Latin American countries such as Mexico, Ecuador, and Guatemala, these butterflies are the returning spirits of passed loved ones. This one of the myriad of customs and beliefs associated with the Latin American holiday known as Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

This holiday occurs over the nights of the first and second of November. The first night is dedicated to lost infants and children while the second is for lost adults. These loved ones are honored with ofrendas, or altars in homes. These ofrendas are covered with candles, food, cempasúchiles, and photos. Everything on the altar is specific to the honored deceased and the country of the celebration.

Candle colors are chosen with care: purple for pain, white for hope, and pink for celebration. The food baked and cooked for the ofrendas are favorites of the lost loved one, and the cempasúchiles, a type of sweet-smelling marigold specific to Mexico, decorate any opening on the ofrenda or the ground. Other trademarks of the holiday include brightly decorated skulls and skeletons.

This celebration reflects the Latin American view of death. In many Western cultures, death is a banned subject, and the public display of skulls or skeletons is considered morbid. Many Latin American cultures view death as a continuation of life and believe that the dead are never truly removed from the mortal world. Thus, the annual day of their return becomes a celebration rather than a mourning.