Students celebrate Day of the Dead with traditions, dancing, altars and food

Kennedy Nolen, Multicultural Reporter


To honor deceased loved ones, the University Ballroom in the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union was transformed into a Day of the Dead celebration, featuring traditional dances, an altar and face painting.

The Mexican tradition was brought to Eastern’s campus to educate students on a holiday they may not be familiar with, said Julisa Bautista, the president of the Latin American Student Organization.

Tables were spread out throughout the University Ballroom with different activities at each one. One table had mini tacos with sides and another table had ‘las Calaveras,’ or skulls, for students to color.

Sienna Mark, special events coordinator for the University Board, said although planning special activities and events is difficult, “it’s also super fun and everyone really enjoys themselves, which makes it all worth it.”

About 100 to 150 students came to the celebration last year, Mark said.

Spanish classes were assigned to make altars as group projects, which were then presented at the Day of the Dead celebration.

Altars on the far side of the room honored deceased people such as Selena Quintanilla, Cesar Chavez, Malcolm X and students’ loved ones.

Nicole Wheatley, a sophomore family and consumer sciences major, said she really liked the altar made for Selena.

She said she has loved the Day of the Dead since she was in middle school.

Four students and members of different Latino student organizations performed a traditional Mexican dance, since the Day of the Dead is popular in Mexico.

A table was set up where attendees could get their face painted with sugar skull designs.

One face painter, Mattie Dubson, said she was at the event to paint faces last year and has been face painting for five years.

She said about 40 people had come to get their face painted an hour into the celebration.

“Oh man, there was a line out the door, and there were three of us (painting faces),” Dubson said.

Dubson said individually, they could paint 25 sugar skulls on people in one hour.

Avery Norris, a sophomore foreign languages major, said she came to the Day of the Dead last year and had a great time celebrating.

She said last year the Día de los Muertos party was in a different room and seemed more “close-knit” because it was located in a smaller room.

“It helps me step into the culture, and that’s something I’m really interested in,” Norris said.

Kennedy Nolen can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].