Today, La Raza Latina will be honoring deceased loved ones and celebrating Dia de los Muertos by setting up an altar in the Hemmingson Alcove.
La Raza Latina is a group on campus that exists to create a community and space for the Latinx population on campus. In celebration of el Dia de los Muertos, the group accepted photo submissions for the altar.
“We offer a space to have conversations about issues that impact our community, but we also welcome all allies and people of all identities to come in and learn alongside us,” said Ashley Sanchez, the president of La Raza.
This welcoming ideology that accompanies the mission of La Raza has translated into their celebration of el Dia de los Muertos this year. The group is inviting the GU community to celebrate with them, allowing a unique opportunity to learn not only about some of the key traditions of the holiday, but also how it is celebrated through an intersectional lens.
“I know there is a big worry surrounding cultural appropriation. That being said, the best way to go about this holiday is through us, especially since we are providing a space for it to be celebrated on campus,” said Andrew Sepulveda, the vice president of La Raza.
The Latin American holiday is often wrongly associated with Halloween in the United States. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, Sepulveda said.
“It does have that stipulation of being a creepy holiday,” he said. “I’ve definitely heard, ‘It’s the Mexican Halloween,’ when it’s nothing like that.”
While the prominence of the skull and skeletons as symbols within the holiday may be behind the confusion, the aspect of death within el Dia de los Muertos is actually a part of the celebration. The biggest part of the celebration, according to Sepulveda, is the honoring of those who have died. That being said, it is not a sad occasion.
“The purpose of it is to be very celebratory of everyone’s lives, your loved ones and their time on earth,” Sanchez said.
“It’s not being sad that they’ve died,” agreed Sepulveda. “It’s remembering how they were in their lives.”
This is where the tradition of the altar comes from. The altar is customarily a collection of pictures of deceased loved ones and, depending on the country, offerings, candles and maybe marigolds. An altar in this style will be constructed in the Hemmingson Alcove on Thursday and will stay up through the weekend.
“We want it to be as authentic as we can make it,” said Sepulveda.