Día de los Muertos: a Celebration of Life and Death

On Wednesday, Dream Club hosted a Día de los Muertos celebration on the green during lunch. The celebration included music, dancing, face painting, and other tradicional Día de los Muertos activities for M-A students to enjoy.

The club sold hot chocolate for one dollar with all proceeds going towards funding for activities and future field trips. Dream Club works towards helping students from different cultures get involved in the M-A community.

A Día de los Muertos poster is decorated with calaveras (skulls) with papel picado hung behind it.

President of the Dream Club, senior Rut Maldonado said, “it’s not like ‘hot chocolate’ hot chocolate. It’s like your grandma’s hot chocolate… [It] represents unity… For Latin American cultures, hot chocolate and pan dulce is a tradition.”

Maria Magana serves hot chocolate.

Dream Club members painted students’ faces and used decorative glitter, jewels, and sequins to evoke the the custom of dressing up as calacas (skeletons) and calaveras (skulls). Imagery of calacas and calaveras are not only a key part of Día de los Muertos, but integral to Latin American cultures as a whole. The Calavera Catrina is another common image which symbolizes the light hearted way in which death is handled in Latin American cultures.

An interpretation of the Calavera Catrina by Mexican engraver José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913).

The event featured a colorful ofrenda, or ‘altar’, situated on the stage in front of the green. Maldonado said, “One thing we decided to do was put [an altar] in the middle and add the skeleton stickers... you could write the name of a loved one that passed away and put it on the poster... We asked students to send us pictures of their loved ones to [remember them].” She added that this allowed all students to participate on a personal level with the celebration. Ofrendas are typically covered with offerings, like food, candles, incense, photos, and marigolds meant to welcome the dead back to earth.

Angeles Duran (Junior) shows off her face paint.

Día de los Muertos, which translates to Day of the Dead, is a holiday that originated in Mexico and is celebrated throughout Latin America on November 1 and 2. The holiday celebrates friends and family who have passed away with food and festivities that they enjoyed in life, following the belief that mourning the dead is disrespectful. In cultures that celebrate Día de los Muertos, death is accepted as a part of life, and the dead are treated as a part of the community, and they return to Earth once a year for Day of the Dead. Día de los Muertos started 1000s of years ago in Aztec, Toltec, and other Nahua civilizations, and today their customs are mixed with Catholic rituals, due to the arrival of Spanish conquistadors.

Dream Club poses in front of the ofrenda or altar.

Maldonado believes having events like this on campus are important saying, “[Many] Latin American students come [to M-A] and I feel like having this event helps them fit [in] more at M-A and not feel left out since M-A is pretty big and making this event … brings them together... I feel like M-A having cultures and events, not only Latin Americans [but other cultures as well, is] really nice to have [because] it just brings people together.” Maldonado also mentioned that “Dream Club focuses on diversity... People who come from other cultures and other countries… join the club to feel more unified and feel more involved with the school.”

Senior Abby Grossman, an M-A student unfamiliar with Latin traditions, stated that she believed this event was being held “To celebrate diversity and that’s like our motto: strength in diversity.”

“We decided it was a good idea to continue that tradition at M-A and still have that culture,” said Maldonado. Día de los Muertos was originally an event Latinos Unidos Menlo Atherton Club (LUMA) hosted before the club dissolved. Maldonado decided to take on the task of organizing Día de los Muertos and Cinco de Mayo in the spring at M-A, as she believes it is important to keep that part of the culture alive, especially for the Latino student population.

This flyer was posted all over school inviting M-A students to Día de los Muertos in the days leading up to the event.

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.