Missouri State’s third annual Festival del Día de los Muertos (or, in English: Day of the Dead Festival) comes to campus October 31. The festival will be held in the PSU West Ballroom and doors will open at 10 A.M.
What is the Day of the Dead?
Luis Lombilla, senior instructor of Spanish, explains: “In many Spanish-speaking countries where Catholicism has a strong presence, the tradition of remembering your loved ones who have passed is celebrated at the beginning of November. It is no coincidence that Halloween takes place around the same time, as well. These traditions are all intrinsically connected, since before Christendom. In some areas of Mexico, where the local pre-Hispanic traditions combined with the colonial Catholicism brought by the Spaniards to the New Continent, a new social-religious practice appeared: el Día de Muertos (The Day of the Dead). This event serves as an opportunity to commemorate our ancestors, inviting them to join us and celebrate their lives by remembering who they were while also offering them the things they used to enjoy in life.”
Who can celebrate?
Lombilla emphasizes that the event is open to everyone, not just those with a Hispanic background.
He says, “While Día de Muertos is observed by those of Hispanic heritage, here at MSU, the event is open to all the public. Indeed, we expect several hundred local school students to attend, and several members of the broader Springfield community will be participating too. In addition, several departments and divisions at MSU are sponsoring this event, plus some local restaurants will contribute food. All of this means that the event will be accessible to everyone. To celebrate this event, all that is needed is openness to new experiences. Anybody willing to learn about a different culture, engage with our Latino community, and have a good time is welcome to attend our 3rd Annual Day of the Dead Festival!”
Learn About Traditions
Many hands-on workshops will be available during the festival. Participants will be able to take part in making traditional Mexican crafts, including:
- Traditional sugar skulls
- Papel picado (traditional hanging paper decorations)
Mexican cempazuchitl flowers
Mexican culture celebrates the death of a loved one in a unique way. Workshops on several of these traditions, including the Latvian Lutheran “Kapu Svetki” tradition.
Celebrate Mexican Culture
Delicious traditional Mexican food will be available, including Mexican Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead), a spongy sweet cake.
Enjoy performances featuring traditional Mexican dance performances, and both marimba and mariachi bands:
- 10 A.M.-11 A.M.: Marimbo Caliente Trio
- 11:30 A.M.-1:30 P.M.: Mariachi Nuevo Azteca with dances by Grupo Latinoamericano
Engage with the Community
Guests can interact with members of the local community and a Día de Muertos Altar. The altar is a chance to commemorate your loved ones. Bring a portrait of a passed relative, friend, pet, etc. and honor them in a traditional Mexican way.
Lombilla explains the significance of the altar: “Unlike in other cultures, remembering your departed loved ones during el Día de Muertos is not a dark and gloomy occasion. Día de Muertos is a colorful celebration of life. Altars are decorated with plenty of details and abundant food and drinks for the muertos (or dead) who are visiting.”