This Wednesday, students at Miami will wash off the fake blood and remove the black cat ears from Halloween festivities, but spookiness will still be in the air at the Dia de los Muertos celebration.
The celebration has been organized by Miami’s Center for American and World Cultures for the past six years and offers a way for Miami students from all across Latin America to remember their dead and celebrate their culture.
Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, originated around 3,000 years ago in present-day Mexico. Today, festive parades and public parties are held to commemorate the dead. Flowers, food and water are also placed on the graves of deceased loved ones as offerings. The holiday is often thought of as solely Mexican; however, countries all across Latin America and the Caribbean celebrate their own versions.
This year, the Dia de los Muertos event at Miami will have a different spin on it.
“Because of all of the natural disasters — the hurricanes and earthquakes, and even political issues — this year is about pain and healing,” said Silvia Rothschild, the Latino Community Outreach Coordinator at Miami. “It’s commemorating the fact that so many lives have gone and how people are reacting, and also how people have helped.”
About 4 percent of students enrolled at Miami’s Oxford campus in 2016 identified as Latino, according to the Diversity and Inclusion report. The Dia de los Muertos celebration gives this population the space to gather and be seen. Last year, about 70 people attended.
“I was really surprised at the turnout,” said Daniela Munoz Perales, a sophomore psychology major at Miami. “You wouldn’t think there are many Latinos here in Oxford until you bring them all together.”
Perales, who is the vice president of the Association of Latin and American Students, planned the celebration last year. She moved here from Mexico 10 years ago and believes that the annual Dia de los Muertos celebration creates a welcoming environment for Latino students to gather and get to know one another.
“It reminds me of home, I guess,” said Perales. “And in a way it brings people together.”
The event will not be limited only to Latino students; non-Latinos and Oxford community members are also invited, according to Rothschild.
The Dia de los Muertos celebration will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 1, in the lobby of MacMillan Hall.