Dia de los Angelitos: honoring the lost, teaching the holiday tradition
Published: Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 15:10
Autumn is host to a series of holidays, a time of harvest and of eerie nights. Halloween isn't the only holiday of dark skies and skeletal spirits, though. Día de los Muertos is a two-day Mexican celebration honoring lost family members and friends, spanning the first two days of November. Groups throughout the U.S. will also host a variety of Celebrations and workshop events honoring the holiday's cultural significance.
Día de los Muertos is a multifaceted celebration originating in Mexico, a country of diverse and distinctive traditions.
"Nov. 1, also known as Día de los Angelitos, honors deceased children and infants. Día de los Muertos, on Nov. 2, honors deceased adults and older teenagers," said Dale Palfrey of Mexconnect, a Mexican culture e-magazine. Both days are quite important, Palfrey said, and the two-week preparations are as much a part of the holiday as the celebrations themselves.
Though the celebration is actually in November, Mexican shops and markets begin selling candles, flowers, macabre toys, decorations and holiday-oriented foods as early as mid-October.
"On Nov. 2, family members gather at the cemetery for gravesite reunions more festive than somber. Some bring along picnic baskets, bottles of tequila for toasting the departed or even a mariachi band to lead a heartfelt sing-along," said Palfrey.
Locally, this year Forbes Library will hold a Día de los Muertos celebration in an effort to teach the importance of this holiday. Though the celebration is not open to the public, it does inspire discussions about cultural knowledge in the northeast.
"We found that it was important to educate these students... They've been doing this program for a while, and this celebration is a way to further their education of Latino/a culture," said Jude McGowan, head of the children's and young adult services at Forbes Library.
Nosotras, Smith's Latina cultural group, has held several Día de los Muertos events on campus, and will continue to host events into next week.
"Nosotras has done an amazing job in representing the Mexican Day of the Dead experience," said Genesis Luviano '14. "By providing opportunities for students to actively learn about this treasured tradition first-hand, Nosotras has clearly done everything possible to present Smithies with a pure cultural tradition."
Luviano encourages students to attend the workshops, no matter the reason.
"This has also given me the opportunity to participate in the Mexican traditions that I too had never participated in," she said.
Glorianne Gonzalez '12, co-chair of Nosotras, said there is still time to attend special events. On Oct. 28, Nosotras will host a Pan de Muerto workshop in Talbot kitchen from 6 to 10 p.m. Attendees will learn how to make the traditional sweet bread, which is molded into different shapes. The event is open to all Five College students.
Nosotras' Day of the Dead workshops culminate on Oct. 30, in the Campus Center basement, when the group will host a Día de los Muertos altar-making workshop. The workshop, which begins at 6 p.m., will allow students to take part in an essential holiday tradition. The altar will remain standing through the end of the holiday on Nov. 1.