Dia de los Muertos display at WLA Graduate Campus Library

Dia de los Muertos Display (October 27-November 16, 2012)

Co-sponsored by California Association of Bilingual Educators (CABE) and Pepperdine University

The Dia de los Muertos altar & installation created by artists Alberto Hernandez Castillo, Kay Gott,and Maria Pickmen includes both traditional and non-traditional approaches to observing the holiday and honoring ancestors.
“This is an event that should be shared with the community, and we have built a community altar that everyone may participate in and join in the fun and festivities,” explains Alberto Hernandez Castillo. The altar includes images of the artists’ dear departed family members and friends. This display was directed by GSEP faculty member and CABE student chapter faculty advisor, Reyna Garcia-Ramos, and organized by GSEP EdD Organizational Leadership student and CABE student chapter president, Christopher Arellano.

About the Dia de los Muertos Celebration.

“The Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) can be traced back more than 2,500 years to the rituals of ancient indigenous tribes of Mexico. The entire ninth month of the Aztec calendar was spent in festivities devoted to their ancestors and the goddess known as ‘Lady of the Dead.’ With the arrival of Spanish missionaries and the spread of Catholicism in Mexico, the celebration was moved to coincide with the church’s observance of All Saints and All Souls Days (November 1 and 2).” –  Englekirk, A., & Marin, M. (2000). p. 1206

“It is a festival of life, not one of sorrow, because at its core is the belief that a person is not dead until he or she is forgotten, that this life and the next are continuous.” Typically “…the festival begins with people constructing altars in their homes. Some are large and elaborate, others are more modest. They overflow with candles, brilliantly colored flowers, offerings of food and drink, religious icons, and faded photographs of those who are being remembered.” – Conklin, P. (2001). p. 41

Floral decorations particularly include “the cempasuchil (marigold), the ‘flower of the dead’ … The same flowers are also used to decorate tombs, and the sweet smell of copal, the Native American incense, is ubiquitous …  Foods usually include bread, water and salt.  The bread is made from a special egg dough … Sugar candies with similar skulls and calavera (skeleton) designs are also popular … More elaborate preparations include mole (turkey in a rich chili sauce) and tamales.” – Pilcher, J. M. (2003). p.506

Conklin, P. (2001). Death takes a holiday. U.S. Catholic, 66(11), 38.
Englekirk, A., & Marín, M. (2000). In J. Lehman (Ed.), Gale encyclopedia of multicultural America (2nd ed. ed., pp. 1190-1222). Detroit: Gale.
Pilcher, J. M. (2003). In S. H. Katz (Ed.), Encyclopedia of food and culture (pp. 505-506). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Dia de los Muertos display at WLA Graduate Campus Library