After Halloween, many Americans ditch the skulls, spiderwebs and jack-o’-lanterns for turkey, pumpkin pie and the countdown to Christmas. However, for the Latino community, especially Mexican-Americans, there is a significant holiday that comes between Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Día de los Muertos or, in English, the Day of the Dead, is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and throughout Central America. Although the name of the holiday might sound dreary to some, it is meant to be a celebration of life.
The holiday is celebrated for two days; Nov. 1 honors the lives of deceased children and Nov. 2 honors deceased adults.
At Ohio State, Día de los Muertos events hosted by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese began on Wednesday. About 100 people gathered in Thompson Library for a lecture focusing on the art and history of the holiday.
Gabriela Pickett, an artist and native of Mexico City, lectured about the historical origins of the holiday.
“The Aztecs believed that for one day the spirits would come back and celebrate with us,” she said.
While some might see the calaveras — intricately decorated sugar skulls or drawings of skulls — as a morbid or scary image and associate them with Halloween, Pickett said Dia de los Muertos and Halloween have significant differences..
“It’s different than Halloween,” she said. “It’s not supposed to make you scared, but happy.”
Pickett also noted that the celebration is one of unity.
“We can look around the room and we would find a lot of differences among each other, but death is inevitable, and we have all lost a loved one at some point and that brings us together,” she said.
Events will continue on Saturday in the Gateway Film Center at 11 a.m. with face painting modeled after traditional calaveras.
The Junior’s Tacos food truck will also be at the event from 11 a.m. to noon, and volunteers will be giving out vouchers for free tacos until they run out.
Estephanie Ortiz, outreach coordinator in the department of Spanish and Portuguese and one of the event’s coordinators, said it was the organizers’ priority to both bring together local Latino communities with the OSU Latino community and to make the event accessible to all who wanted to attend.
“We have rented two charter buses. One is leaving from Westland Library and one is leaving from La Michaocana (Mexican Market) on Morse Road,” said Ortiz.
The face painting and tacos will be followed by a movie screening of the Book of Life, a kid-friendly movie centered around Día de los Muertos.
The day’s events will include a visit to Thompson Library to see Dia de los Muertos-centric artwork at an exhibit titled “Ya Vienen los Muertos,” which translates to “Here Come the Dead.”
“We want to hold a spotlight on Latin American identity and creativity while also opening doors onto the collaborative and imaginative potential of this holiday,” said Dr. Martinez-Cruz, curator of the Ya Vienen los Muertos exhibit and assistant professor of Latino/a cultural and literary studies.
A full schedule of events can be found here on the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s website.