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Western Students Celebrate El Día de los Muertos
Ghoulish costumes, grinning skulls, the turn of leaves from summer’s green to autumn’s orange. This may sound like a recipe for Halloween, but these icons are actually part of an ancient tradition celebrated throughout Mexico and South America, a time of festivity and remembrance.
El Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, is celebrated during the first two days of November, and has been an important aspect of Mexican culture for centuries. Elaborate altars, ornate calaveras, or skulls, and hilariously morbid poetry are only a few aspects of this festival that celebrates the lives of those who have passed on.
This November, first year Spanish students at Western University embraced Mexican culture to create their own event for the Day of the Dead, which was held in the Weldon Library. The students began planning in late September, and after weeks of meetings, budgeting, and meticulous organization, they were anxious for their hard work to pay off. The altar team put together a beautiful ofrenda, upon which they placed traditional food, calaveras, flowers, and other offerings. Other teams designed a costume contest, face painting table, and various activity stations, including papel picado (exquisitely detailed papercuts) and a poetry table where Western students could drop by to write a few limericks of their own. A particularly memorable piece, written by Alexis Vienneau, went as follows:
A cat lady died last week
Only noticed because of the reek
She had not one friend
Just her cats to the end
What happened to her? Let’s take a peek.
Her body was there on the floor
With the cats that she did most adore
Some lay by her side
Some had eaten her hide
She loved them, they loved her taste more
– Alexis Vienneau
Other notable details included traditional food, decorations, and live music, courtesy of the Don Wright Faculty of Music. Overall, the event was a smashing success, many visitors left with a new appreciation for the ancient culture and traditions of the Americas. The Día de los Muertos team is looking forward to putting on another event in Spring 2018 for la Noche Herética, so stay tuned for more excitement!
Written by Komal Patel
Komal Patel is a first year student in the Bachelor of Medical Sciences at Western University, and she also has a passion for learning new languages. Her research interests include the effect of multilingualism on an individual’s cognitive processes, and the role of genetic and environmental factors in disease resistance.