November 1, 2016
On November 1, the Anthropology Club partnered with the Latino Student Association to celebrate Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) at the Cobb Institute of Archaeology. This is a holiday typically celebrated throughout Mexico and the Southwestern US. In 2008, UNESCO placed this holiday on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The celebration includes the creation and decoration of sugar skulls (calaveras), decorating with marigolds and the creation of altars (ofrendas) on which food, beverages, calaveras, and photos of deceased loved ones are placed. This is a time to honor and celebrate those who have passed, and festivities tend to take place in the home as well as in cemeteries.
Though often confused with Halloween, this is a separate holiday with its own history. Celebrated in southern and central Mexico prior to Spanish colonization, the holiday has spread throughout Latin America and the southwestern US. The timing of the holiday has shifted through time from occurring around the beginning of September to coincide with Halloween and All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
The AMEC Anthropology Club created the sugar skulls over the course of a few weeks. They are a mixture of sugar and meringue and need about a week to fully set up. These were then set out for anyone interested to decorate in the lobby of the Cobb. The Latino Student Association provided delicious refreshments including pan dolce, Mexican hot chocolate, cupcakes, and rice pudding. It was a wonderful celebration for everyone who attended.
The celebration of Día de los Muertos has changed in terms of timing and location, and elements of Christianity became intertwined as well. But it remains an inclusive event for the celebration of those who have gone before us. It is a time to remember and celebrate their lives and to introduce the living to the dead through conversation, sharing food and decorating calaveras. Faculty and students of the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures seek to tell the stories of the dead through the things they left behind, and we thank the Latino Student Association for sharing their time and treats with us during this celebration.
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