MTSU will observe its inaugural celebration of the dead, “Dia de los Muertos,” on Tuesday, Nov. 1, following the more whimsical Halloween holiday.
The “Day of the Dead” observance will take place from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Nov. 1 in the Tom H. Jackson Building, 628 Alma Mater Drive.
The practice originated with indigenous peoples in the Americas and predated European colonialism, according to Dr. Antonio Vasquez, faculty project manager and a lecturer in the Department of Global Studies and Human Geography.
“It’s an acceptance of death as part of the life cycle, but we also recognize that death is not the end, but, really, a continuation of life,” said Vasquez.
For the first 30 minutes, guests will be able to learn more about the event and engage in various cultural aspects of it. These include remembering loved ones at the candlelit altar with artifacts, including photos and videos. Prayers written on paper may be placed in a box at the altar.
From 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the celebration will continue with stories from the students about their departed loved ones and a traditional Azteca dance.
“For me, personally, celebrating Dia de los Muertos is a way for me to stay connected to my own family, my community and my history,” said Jennifer Salamanca, a freshman business administration major from Nashville, Tennessee.
Traditional foods made for guests by students in the Department of Human Sciences include pan de muerto, or bread of the dead; atole, a corn drink; and tamales. The room will be decorated with marigolds, called cempazuchitl, and special paper decorations called papel picado.
Calaveras, or skulls made of pure sugar, will represent the sweetness of life. Face painting will be available to represent the continuation of life.
“I come from a different cultural background, but I love being able to express my love for loved ones who have passed in this way,” said Kimberlee Cooper, a senior from La Vergne, Tennessee, who’s majoring in Spanish and German. “I am grateful to be part of this experience.”
“Dia de los Muertos” is free and open to the public.
A printable campus parking map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap. Off-campus visitors attending the daytime events should obtain a special one-day permit from MTSU’s Office of Parking and Transportation at www.mtsu.edu/parking/visit.php.
The Department of Global Studies and Human Geography and the Department of Human Sciences are co-sponsors of the event in collaboration with the MT Student Association of Family and Consumer Science; the MT Experiential Learning Scholars Program; La Communidad, an MTSU mentorship program for Hispanic students; and Futuro, a professional development organization for Latino MTSU students.
For more information, contact Vasquez at 210-838-6575 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Cooper at 615-713-8670 or email@example.com.
— Gina K. Logue (firstname.lastname@example.org)