Jackson State News Archives

Nov 4, 2013

Spanish 2010 Students Celebrate Dia de los Muertos

Students from the Spanish 2010 class set up a special display in the hallway of the classroom building on November 1. The display was similar to what might be set up in a family's living room in Mexico to celebrate Día de los Muertos, "Day of the Dead" in English. Día de los Muertos is a holiday with Mexican origins that is celebrated on November 1 - 2. This is a national holiday in Mexico, and is now celebrated in many other countries around the world.

The name suggests that this is a celebration of death. It is actually a celebration of the deceased. Families participating in this celebration of the deceased build an altar (ofrenda) similar to the display built by our students. The night of November 1, they would go to the cemetery, keep vigil all night and "welcome the spirits" of their dearly departed. Favorite foods and drinks of the deceased are placed on the altar and fresh orange marigolds are taken to the cemetery to decorate the tombs.

Another traditional food for the occasion is pan de los muertos (bread of the dead). This is heavy yeast bread made in the shape of skull and crossbones. Sometimes teardrops are added on the sides because death is a bittersweet occasion. JSCC student Hannah Thompson made pan de los muertos for the Spanish 2010 class.

The actual holiday lasts for two days. The celebration became intertwined with All Saints Day (November 1) and All Souls Day (November 2). The holiday was originally a month long tradition of the Aztecs. The holiday took on Catholic traditions when the Spanish conquistadores arrived. As mentioned, this celebration has spread from Mexico and is now in countries such as Guatemala, Brazil and Spain. With the growing number of Mexicans immigrating to the U.S., the celebration of this day is becoming more and more common here in the states.