SMU’s LULAC Celebrates Día de los Muertos
SMU’s League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, hosted a special celebration for Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, Tuesday evening in Hughes-Trigg. Students gathered in the Hughes-Trigg ballroom for free food, music and face painting, as well as traditional Latin performances from a folklórico dancer and a mariachi band. Traditional altars and skull decorations adorned the walls to create this festive atmosphere.
Although this event may seem like a Halloween celebration, in actuality, these festivities honor a Mexican tradition that has been celebrated for thousands of years. According to The Dallas Morning News, Día de los Muertos is a holiday that spans Nov.1 and Nov. 2 and is a time when “deceased loved ones are given an opportunity to be back with their families.”
Azucena Milan, the president of the LULAC, said the celebration is practically the opposite of Halloween.
“We are not dressing up or anything,” Milan said. “I don’t even know when or how Halloween is celebrated, but our celebration celebrates the life of the people we loved who have passed away.”
Members of the Latino community celebrate the holiday by building alters, or ofrendas that honor ancestors. The ofrendas are decorated with bright colors, food and photos of relatives.
“We put out things they liked when they were alive, like their favorite food, candies…or favorite music if they liked music,” Milan said.
LULAC member Melissa Calderon added, “you can put up pictures of your dead relatives or even celebrities…anyone you want to honor in some way.”
The event may focus on the dead, but Calderon insists the celebration is far from somber.
“It’s really not sad,” Calderon said. “You can get that [idea] because of the altars and the photos…but it’s really about remembering the good things about those people and the good memories you had with them…It’s paying honor to them.”
After the event, both Calderon hopes attendees learn more about the holiday and the culture.
“It’s been around for so long and it’s something unique to Hispanic culture, it’s more towards Mexican, but other Latin Americans cultures do it as well,” Calderon said. “It’s a special day for people to remember their loved ones and show appreciation…it brings people together.”
Milan believes the LULAC can help SMU students explore different cultures and become more invested in the community.
“We want to spread awareness of the different holidays that are celebrated not only in SMU but in the Dallas community…especially since there is a large population of Hispanic people in Dallas,” Milan said. “It’s important to show people at SMU what their community Is about.”