Traditional celebration of life and death

Marisa Hildebrand

While many students reserve the end of October for Halloween parties and carving pumpkins to scare off spirits, other students and community members are preparing to celebrate Dia de los Muertos also known as Day of the Dead to welcome spirits home.

Stemming from Aztec tradition, Dia de los Muertos is celebrated by Latinos, Spanish, Brazilians and traces of the holiday are seen throughout the world.

Dia de los Muertos is a two day event from Nov. 1 to Nov. 2, and is a chance for family members and friends to gather to remember those who have died.

The living leave blessings, food, marigolds and personal items on altars to welcome their loved ones back from the afterlife for the night.

Sigma Pi Alpha sorority hosted its 10th annual Dia de los Muertos celebration on Oct. 27 in the University Ballroom.

“It’s a time to celebrate our ancestors and people who have passed away,” Ana Valencia senior sociology major and member of Sigma Pi Alpha said. “And it’s a way to promote our culture on campus.”

Valencia said Nov. 1 honors the children who have died, and the sweetness and colorful designs of sugar skulls help lure these children back home for the night. The second day, Valencia said, is primarily reserved for the adults who have passed.

There will be 16 altars made by other sororities, fraternities and clubs on campus to honor the dead, but students are still encouraged to bring special items to remember their loved ones who have died.

“I have a friend who passed away who really liked Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, so we always put out those on the altar,” Lucy Arias, Sigma Pi Alpha member said.

Valencia also asked several organizations on campus to send in pictures of those who they wish to honor. The pictures cycled through on a PowerPoint during the event.

Along with altars to commemorate loved ones, Sigma Pi Alpha’s event had a mariachi band, sol klorico dancers, sugar skull making and face painting. Everything in the event was free, including pan dulce and hot cocoa.

“Obviously, it’s a time to remember those who have passed, and it’s sad,” Arias said. “But it’s more of a celebration of their life.”

The Multi-Cultural Center is also holding a Dia de los Muertos celebration. On Nov. 4 from 12:30-2:30 p.m. The center will host a free sugar skull workshop where students can decorate sugar skulls and enjoy hot cocoa and pan dulce.

For students who are in the mood to sneak away from campus for a night, Old Sacramento is hosting their annual Dia de los Muertos celebration on Nov. 1 from 6 p.m. to midnight.

Historic Old Sacramento Foundation will partner with local nonprofit Sol Collective for the Day of the Dead event.

There will be a traditional procession and lighting of the community altar led by Sacramento Aztec dancing group Kalpulli Maquilli Tonatiuh.

Pop-up art exhibits, calavera face painting, family activities, live music and games will also flood the streets of Old Town for the night.

Parking meters are limited, so be sure to get there early to find a spot or park in the Old Sacramento I Street garage.

There are several ways to celebrate Day of the Dead this year, and whether students want to stay on campus, or are looking for a night out, Sacramento has plenty to offer.