GLK, LSA celebrates Dia De Los Muertos through cultural crafts

The Knight Spot blared with Spanish music, ranging from mariachi-influenced tunes to Spanish pop on Friday Oct. 21. Skulls, flowers and crafty art pieces adorned the room. Indeed, it was the Dia de Los Muertos event, hosted by Geneseo’s Latino Student Association and Geneseo Late Knight. Dia de Los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead,” is a holiday celebrating the lives and souls of the dead. It serves to recognize the presence that the deceased have made in the lives of those still living. It is celebrated primarily in Mexico, parts of the United States and throughout parts of Central and South America. The origins of this celebration can be traced back to the Aztec civilization in which the goddess of the underworld, Mictecacihuatl, was celebrated through a festival.

Beginning on Nov. 1, the lives of children and infants who’ve passed away are celebrated, while on Nov. 2, the lives of the adults that have passed away are celebrated. The reason for this difference is thought to be rooted in the belief that the souls of children return first, and then the adults come back to reunite with loved ones.

Geneseo students immersed themselves in creativity, and various tables were set up with 3D paints, paper pipe cleaners for flower-crowns and flower-making, art tissue and mason jars that could be drawn on and filled with artificial candles.

While all the tables were packed with students making crafts, the face-painting table was the most popular. LSA treasurer sociology major sophomore Emilie Porter painted the faces of various students: one with a skeleton hand and many others with decorated skull faces, which resembled sugar skulls.

“This is my first time hearing about Dia de Los Muertos, but it was a really fun event,” biology major freshman Dharti Thaker said. “It gives me something to decorate my room with, and it’s a nice opportunity to paint and be creative.”

People often celebrate Dia de Los Muertos in homes or graveyards. Apart from making or giving sweets—such as sugar skulls—and holding vigils at graves, celebrants also commemorate the holiday by constructing an altar that is topped with food and other items. These items serve as “offerings” for those that have died.

Students spread flowers, petals, candles, pictures and fruits all over an altar that stood in the center of the ballroom. This altar is considered a rest stop for the souls that travel; it helped demonstrate to event-goers what is usually placed on it. Next to the altar, a slideshow presented information about the origins of Dia de Los Muertos.

While this event celebrated a celebration in and of itself, it was also a celebration for LSA, as it marked their first Geneseo Late Knight event.

“This event serves to raise awareness and expose everyone to something we found important,” LSA public relations representative for social media political science and history double major sophomore Anahi Cortes said. “We’ve always wanted to start a Geneseo Late Knight event, so we figured, why not do it with Dia de Los Muertos? This is the beginning of something we want to do every year—a new tradition.”