Luther celebrates Día de Muertos


Sarah Damhof ('22) Chips

Colton Schlimmes (’21) leads a dance at the Día de Muertos celebration.

Latines Unides hosted the annual Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, celebration on Oct. 31 in the North Gym. Día de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday celebrated on Nov. 1 and 2. It is particularly celebrated in the central and southern regions of Mexico and people of Mexican heritage elsewhere. It is a time set aside to commemorate the memory of family members who have passed away.

One of the main reasons this event is celebrated every year is to share the culture on campus with the Decorah community.

“It’s important because you show diversity and inclusion at Luther,” Evelyn Montoya (‘23) said. “You can also bring different cultures into Luther, and that way other students can learn about cultures not just here in America, but about cultures in other places.”

Families prepare for the celebration by making altars or ofrendas. Ofrendas are elaborately decorated to welcome the spirit who is returning home. They are often decorated with the favorite food of the loved one coming to visit. Along with food, candles are also essenttial decorative pieces on the ofrenda.

“The candles [signify] the light,” Sofia Martinez Cruz (‘22) said. “We have this belief that everybody that is dead needs to find the light. It depends on the religion. [In] Catholicism, we have this belief that they need to find the light of God, and they need to go through the darkness to find it.”

The event was filled with food, music, and dancing. Organizers of the event brought in Mexican food from various vendors in the Decorah community. Booths sold Jarritos, sweet bread called conchas, and tamales. There was also a taco truck which had a variety of tacos and burritos to choose from.

Altars are decorated with skulls to remind celebrants that the visitors to come are still humans. Flowers also play an essential role in the Día de los Muertos celebration. Families who do not put up an altar go to the cemetery and give flowers as a gift.

The Día de los Muertos celebration is not to be confused with Halloween. Montoya spoke about the disconnect between the two holidays.

“Day of the Dead is not the same celebration as Halloween, and should be respected,” Montoya said. “On Halloween, you trick or treat, and on Day of the Dead, you celebrate people that have passed away.”

Many colors are used to remind people that it is not a sad day. Cruz emphasized how the day is meant to be full of joy, and not sadness or fear.

“It’s really colorful because it’s necessary for us to let people know that it’s not a sad day,” Cruz said.

“It’s nothing related to Halloween, and nothing related to people being scared. It’s more of a festival. It’s really colorful because we want to show them that we’re really happy that they’re coming back with us.”

Latines Unides focuses on creating a community for Latinx students and their allies. David Correa Gonzalez (‘22), Vice President of Latines Unides, believes Latines Unides creates a welcoming community.

“We just feel at home,” Correa said “We all share the same language, but we don’t speak Spanish during our meetings because everyone is welcome. We have similar cultures, so it just feels like home for us.”

Sarah Damhof (’22) Chips
Latines Unides celebrated the Día de Muertos in North Gym.
Sarah Damhof (’22) Chips
Kimberlyn Perez-Salazar (’22) and David Gonzalez Corea Gonzalez (’22) perform at the celebration.
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