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WSU Students Partner With Dayton, Celebrate Dia de los Muertos

Coco movie for Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead | Photo by Christian Peters | The Wright State Guardian


Día de los Muertos is a holiday about remembering lost loved ones, and Wright State University (WSU) organizations celebrated it with three different events. 

WSU’s Amigos Latinos Student Association had a Día de los Muertos parade as well as a viewing of the movie Coco. Advocates for Cultural-diversity and Excellence (ACE) had an informational presentation about the holiday. 

Día de los Muertos

Also called Day of the Dead, the holiday celebrates and remembers lost loved ones. Traditionally celebrated Nov. 1-2, it is celebrated mostly by Mexican and Latin American communities. 

Many mistake the holiday for Mexican Halloween, often due to the colorful skull makeup and brightly colored clothing worn for the holiday. However, that is not what the holiday is. 

“The celebration started as a pre-Hispanic tradition over 3000 years ago when the Spaniards forced native people to convert to Catholicism. Old Souls Day is celebrated on Nov. 2. Indigenous people wanted to keep some of their culture, art and religious practices so they did it by converting Nov. 2 as the day we would celebrate the life of our lost loved ones,” Fermin Recarte, Intercultural Specialist for the Latino Center, said.

The two-day holiday reunites the living and dead. Families prepare altars, called ofrendas, in honor of their deceased family members. 

These are decorated with yellow marigolds, photos of the family members and the loved one’s favored foods and drinks. The offerings are meant to encourage the deceased to visit, reuniting the family. 

Events

Amigos Latinos’ big celebration was their Día de Los Muertos parade, where they partnered with Día de Los Muertos Dayton. 

The parade began with face painting and food trucks like Billie Gold Bubble Tea and Food Truck. The parade itself began at 2 p.m. and went through the Oregon District, concluding at the Missing Peace Art Space.

Once at the Missing Piece Art Center, there was dancing by Orgullo Mexicano and music by Leslie Perez and the Alacran de Durango. 

Rev. Cool from WYSO’s Around the Fringe show served as MC and DJ for the event. 

“This parade was very successful! There were many people who joined our parade: dancers, drummers, people carrying ofrendas, people with colorful skull-painted faces. We immersed ourselves in this traditional celebration by walking in the parade with a huge ofrenda,” Mariangely Bonilla Custodio, president of the Amigos Latinos Student Association, said.

Amigos Latinos also collaborated with the Latino Center to celebrate the holiday, and a few ofrendas were displayed outside the Latino Center in the Student Union. They included letters, decorated skulls and flowers. 

On Nov. 2, the center hosted a viewing of the movie Coco, a movie centered on Mexican culture and traditions related to Día de Los Muertos.

After the movie, WSU alum and artist Gabriela Pickett taught attendees about important parts of the movie and how it related to the Day of the Dead.

However, Amigos Latinos wasn’t the only organization to celebrate the holiday. ACE also held an event for Día de Los Muertos. 

Their cultural chair, JeDawn Wilson, gave a presentation on the holiday, detailing its history and showed clips of the holiday being celebrated. 

“Since it’s my first time as cultural chair, I was like ‘I can do a holiday I’ve already learned about.’ Plus, I feel like people on campus probably don’t know about it. So I thought I should spread the knowledge that I have to others,” Wilson said.