Dia de los Muertos: Pierce celebrates Day of the Dead

Students in the Connection Cafe on Nov. 1 experienced a much different environment than usual.

Colton Swanson, Online Reporter

On Nov. 1 Pierce College Puyallup hosted their first Dia de los Muertos celebration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Connection Café. The Day of the Dead event, planned by the Office of Student Life, consisted of similar traditions to that which is often celebrated on the holiday including sugar skull painting, traditional bread and an altar where students could pay their respects to the dead.

Dia de los Muertos originated in Mexico and is strongly celebrated throughout Latin America. The holiday was originally known as Dia de Muertos and was originally celebrated for the entire month of August, according to the Aztec calendar and their celebration of their Lady of the Dead goddess.

Now, Dia de los Muertos is celebrated as a three day event, the first on Oct. 31 and the last on Nov. 2. All Hallows Eve falls on the first day when the spirits of dead children are welcomed back and celebrated. A children’s altar is created as a way to help celebrate the lives of these children. On Nov. 1, adult spirits visit on the All Saints Day, which is followed by All Souls Day on Nov. 2 where families go to cemeteries to celebrate around the graves of their dead loved ones.

The celebration at Pierce was organized by Diversity and Equity Coordinator Britney Taylor. This is not her first Dia de los Muertos celebration.

“I wanted to do something to celebrate a cultural holiday,” Taylor said. “I had celebrated on a small scale before, but nothing like this.”

Taylor and the OSL helped orchestrate the event. The sugar skulls were set out upon tables on either side for the fire place in the connection café while an ofrenda, or altar, was placed in between the two. A photo along with flowers and ceremonial bread accompany the altar. Traditionally, the altars serve as a feast for the spirits as they come to celebrate with their loved ones. The bread is known as “Bread of the Dead” and is topped with either sugar or sesame seeds. Other common items on altars include personal items, apples, instruments and many other things that are meant to please the spirits.

While traditional Spanish music played throughout the College Center, students congregated around the tables that had been set up to see what was happening and to take part in the festivities. The commotion caught the eye of Amber Smith, who stopped by to decorate her own sugar skull.

“I saw it over here and I’m really into art,” Smith said. “I wanted to try something new.”

Two stacks of papers were set on the center table, one which explained the “Day of the Dead” holiday and the other which described the altar itself. The event served as both a fun celebration and also a way to educate the students about a holiday celebrated by millions each year.

“I wanted to share the culture and the celebration,” Taylor said.

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Colton Swanson

Dia de los Muertos: Pierce celebrates Day of the Dead

by Colton Swanson time to read: 2 min