Celebrated on Nov. 1 and 2, Día de los Muertos is a holiday dedicated to the relationship between the living and the dead, when the spirits of the dead are believed to come home and spend time with their loved ones. Though predominantly celebrated throughout Mexico, it is not limited to just that country, with celebrations also taking place in countries such as Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and Haiti, just to list a few. It is traditional to build an altar to welcome the spirits of the dead, usually featuring elements such as candles, papel picado, marigold flowers, photos of deceased loved ones, inciense, sugar skulls, water, food offerings and more. Regarding celebrations within the United States, the Chicano movement popularized the idea of turning the traditional household rituals into a celebration of community expression. With community Día de los Muertos events starting in San Francisco in the early ‘70s, it is now common practice for art galleries, museums, community centers and schools to make their own altars. Portland State’s own Latino community takes part in these celebrations, with La Casa Latina holding its annual Día de los Muertos celebration on Nov. 2 in collaboration with the Native American Student Community Center (NASCC) and Latino-led student organizations Mecha and Las Mujeres. A lot went into the behind the scenes of the event, with set-up being a full-day effort. The celebration took place in the NASCC from 6–8 p.m. and allowed students to celebrate Día de los Muertos with one another, doing traditional activities such as painting sugar skulls, face painting and more. La Casa Latina gave out Conchas, Pan Dulce, and Chappurado to enjoy while socializing. A huge, beautiful altar was put together at the back of the NASCC, full of candles, sugar skulls, flowers and pictures of famous figures who have passed, such as Selena, Vincente Fernandez and Chadwick Boseman, just to list a few. PSU Mariachi also performed at the event in honor of those who have passed.
Dia de los Muertos altar at La Casa Latina's Dia de los Muertos Celebration. Alberto Alonso Pujazon Bogani/PSU Vanguard