Day of the Dead

Shannon Norris

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 Students, faculty and families of different cultural backgrounds joined together to celebrate Día de los Muertos — which in English translates to “Day of the Dead” — on Monday, Nov. 1 at the Multicultural Center at Western Illinois University.

 The Day of the Dead, which is held every Nov. 1-2 celebrates the cycle of life. Those that joined in the celebration got to enjoy a variety of activities, which included creating an individual burrito bowl for $5, watching traditional Mexican dances and learning how the rest of the world celebrates the Day of the Dead.

 Gabriel Leon, president of Lambda Theta Phi, which teamed up with Lambda Theta Alpha Sorority Incorporated, said that Day of the Dead is used as a remembrance of a loved one who passed away.

 “What happens is usually in Mexico they build an altar, which can be anything, it can be a desk, anything,” Leon said. “But the main thing that goes on an altar is the past favorite foods of a deceased one. So for example, if the deceased one loved pizza, someone would put pizza on the altar just to remember them like, ‘Oh they loved pizza.’ It can even go up to if they really loved beer. If he had a certain type of beer, you could put a Budweiser on there, but it’s just to symbolize the person and the thing that
they loved.”

 Leon said that Day of the Dead has been celebrated in the fraternity since before he came to Western in 2012.

 “We’ve done it always with Lambda Theta Alpha, so we’ve had that partnership ever since and we just try to continue that tradition,” Leon said. “The only thing is what to come up for the next year to try to top it off. We try to do something different so people can come out. This is my last semester, but I know the guys will come up with something.”

 Lambda Theta Alpha helped put on a face-painting contest for the families that showed up, where the winner got a free burrito bowl.
 Towards the end of the event many shared their families versions of Día de los Muertos, recalling past loved ones and little quirks that they had that made them special that they will always carry with them.

 “I enjoyed the dancing part and hearing about the cultures and different celebrations that happen within,” said Danielle Flack, a graduate assistant in the Alcohol and Other Drugs Resource Center. “I’ve always been very interested in this kind of celebration and this kind of program, I’m also here supporting people of my program so I also wanted to support him but also I just enjoy learning about different types of cultures and such though, that’s the biggest thing for me. Oh and the food, let’s be real.”

 “I think my favorite part was the presentation and learning about all the different cultural aspects about it and some of what (was) being shared at the end,” said Amanda Ostman, a graduate assistant in the Disability Resource Center.

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