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Crafting Cempasúchil for Día de los Muertos

Tissue Flower Making | Photo by Abigail Abbott | The Wright State Guardian

In celebration of Día de los Muertos, students gathered to make cempasúchil, or tissue flowers. The Indigenous American Cultural Student Association and the Amigos Latinos Student Association held the event on Thursday, Nov. 2. 

Cempasúchil (tissue flower) background

The word cempasúchil is used interchangeably with tissue flower during the event, when in fact the word means marigold flower. While many different flowers are used during Día de los Muertos, the marigold has become one of the more popular and well-known figures of the celebrations.

The craft is popular and easy to complete, leading to the decision to host an event teaching students how to make them. Felipe Perez, president of Amigos Latinos Student Association, explains that the two clubs also chose tissue flowers due to their importance to Día de los Muertos.

“The cempasúchil (marigold flower) displays bright colors to attract souls to the altar. These tissue flowers, along with the items on the ofrenda, are used to celebrate the lives of those who have passed,” Perez said.

An ofrenda is an altar built in a family’s home and is decorated with personal items related to the deceased. The purpose is to allow for a time of remembrance and celebration of the lives that have been lost.

Making of tissue flowers

Making tissue flowers was a simple process that the coordinators of the event were eager to teach others. To make them, students only need three supplies: craft tissue sheets, pipe cleaners and scissors. In a few steps, a tissue flower can be made in roughly five to 10 minutes. 

According to Perez, the flowers are traditionally made in shades of orange and yellow, but the event offered tissue paper of all colors to help encourage creativity and diversity among the flowers. 

Students’ artistic ability was put to the test, as they combined hues of all kinds to create beautiful marigolds ranging from warm yellow and red to deep, dark purples. 

Athena Long, an attendee of the event, expressed how she felt making her tissue flowers.

“The event was a lot of fun. I enjoyed meeting new people and also learning how to make paper flowers,” Long said.

Community and family

Long’s opinion on the event was shared by many, as it was the perfect opportunity for students to see new faces and bond over the learning experience of making tissue flowers.

The hosts were more than happy to help teach others how to make the tissue flowers, and as more attendees arrived at the event, students stepped up to share their crafting knowledge. While the sense of community was big at this event, the topic of the craft itself is also important for students to know.

Perez and Tasha Glass, the graphic design chair for IACSA, both brought up how vital it is for students to interact with people and events from different cultures.

“I believe it is important for students to attend these events, as it exposes them to the diverse community here at Wright State. These events allow students to connect with others and learn about the different cultures and traditions celebrated around the world,” Perez said.

Glass provided a special input on the cultural perspective.

“It’s important to students to attend cultural events since it allows them to find a place for them to interact with others of the same culture who may have the same practices,” Glass said.

Both voices present the importance of culture, whether that be learning about new cultures and traditions or finding people with similar practices to bond with.

Future events

Both organizations have upcoming events that they are excited to share with the campus community. The clubs will be collaborating once again on Nov. 14 for an event called Diverse World of Mesoamerica.

“[Diverse World of Mesoamerica] will showcase and explain the differences and similarities between Maya, Aztec and Inca cultures and cuisine,” Glass explained.

Perez was happy to announce a big event for Amigos Latinos in December.

“We will be hosting our traditional Navidad la Comida on Dec. 5 from 12 to 2 p.m. in Student Union 019. We will be providing tamales, hot chocolate and games for all students on campus,” Perez said.

Amigos Latinos has biweekly meetings on Fridays from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Latino Center, located at the Student Union in room 023T. Their next meeting will be on Nov. 17. 

IACSA has meetings every other Tuesday from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Asian and Native American Center, located in the Student Union in room 023E. Their next meeting will be on Nov. 28.

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