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Día de los Muertos


Día de los Muertos, commonly known as Day of the Dead, commemorates loved ones who have passed. The holiday is celebrated in Latin America from Nov.1 – Nov.2 but has become recognized in different regions. Día de los Muertos allows family and friends to cherish memories of the dead. The University of North Georgia embraced the holiday by hosting its first annual celebration in the Nesbitt building.

The Department of Spanish-Portuguese and Language Lab came together to host this year’s celebration creating a space for students to learn about the culture and traditions of Dia de los Muertos. Colorful ofrendas known as altars decorated the lobby giving UNG students a chance to display their loved ones who have passed. Such as their mothers, grandmas, and even celebrities like Stan Lee and Selena. Betzy Romulo, a coordinator with the Language Lab, explained how it took two weeks to plan with all hands on deck. 

“A lot of the students did not know what the event was about because people saw death and thought it was tragic when promoting,” – Betzy Romulo. 

Even though UNG did not approve a budget the event was a success. Thanks to the Language Lab and Spanish Honor Society members who used their money to fund the expenses.

UNG did not approve a budget and only agreed to sponsor if they could provide their own catering menu which would consist of salads and sandwiches. Since food is an important aspect for Día de los Muertos, lacking traditional dishes, such as pan de muerto- a sweet Mexican bread would limit the authentic experience of the celebration. The Language Lab and Spanish Honor Society members used their money to fund the event capturing how Latin America celebrates this holiday.

This year many students got involved by putting names of loved ones who passed on paper butterflies and putting them on the ofrenda. By hosting Día de los Muertos at UNG, students caught a preview of how Latin America remembers the dead. 

One tradition is an ofrenda, an altar decorated with the person’s favorite food and drinks, and the family also places photos, candles, and flowers around the altar.  A popular flower used is the marigold which provides a strong scent to help guide souls home to reconnect with friends and family. The marigold has been used since Aztec times where the foundation of Dia de los Muertos was created. 

According to Historythe Aztec people believed that death was part of an ever-present life. So when a person dies, they travel to Chicunamictlán, the land of the dead.  The souls went through nine challenges to reach the land of Mictlan, which was the lowest level of the underworld where the dead reside.

Where the Aztec goddess of death, Mictecacihuatl, ruled. Her job was to guard the bones of the dead, according to Learn Religion. Many Aztecs believed that Mictecacihuatl presided over festivals in honor of the dead, and these celebrations have influenced how Día de los Muertos is celebrated today. 

Día de los Muertos is a holiday full of tradition and love where we take a day to honor those who are no longer with us.

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Día de los Muertos