by: Jennifer Villeda ’20 A&E Staff
Día de los Muertos is often misunderstood to be a Mexican celebration of Halloween. However, this celebration, which is popular in Mexico but can be celebrated in other Latin cultures, is a time of celebrating the afterlife and being part of a community.
Providence College’s Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS) and Board of Programmers (BOP) teamed up to bring this holiday to campus in order to highlight its inclusive nature and bring everyone together.
Laura Arango ’20, president of OLAS and an organizer of the event, said, “Usually this is a Mexican holiday, but we wanted it to be encompassing for all cultures where they could do something.
“We scaled it up from last year as this freshman class has more Latinx students than prior years and we wanted to make them feel part of the community.” This was captured in the way the two clubs decorated the lounge of Moore Hall with flags representing different cultures, and in the wooden skulls that students painted at the event.
Keeping with this festive spirit of Día de los Muertos, Fiona Hoang ’22, a member of BOP and another organizer, said that they consulted Dr. Mintzi Martinez-Rivera, assistant professor of sociology, who told them, “Do something that’s true to you. Día de los Muertos is all about what’s true to you.”
They looked into ways to engage students and what would allow them to express their cultures. Arango spoke of the result: “Creativity brings everyone together, bright colors and painting wooden skulls allow people to add their culture and expression into this holiday.” Students were able to put a piece of themselves into their design and celebrate lost loved ones.
During the event, Dr. Martinez-Rivera, the only anthropologist at PC, gave a short speech highlighting the history and significance of Día de los Muertos. She stated, “Day of the Dead, a mixture of practices and traditions, celebrates death as a continuation of life; it’s another state of being.” Life is not seen as the finale of our existence but rather a part of the journey of existence.
Día de los Muertos may span a few days and may be primarily connected to Latin American cultures, but in its entirety, it is a time of celebrating one’s ancestors and their lives. At PC, this event took on an additional meaning by being a way to bring students and faculty together and showcase the variety of backgrounds, while reflecting on lost loved ones. Everyone belonged; life was celebrated through Dr. Martinez-Rivera’s speech about the holiday, and through people talking amongst friends and fellow students. It was a beautiful scene to see the Friar Family come together to celebrate this holiday, and seeing each individual make it their own.