Community celebrates Dia de los Muertos

Mercury Bowen, Entertainment Reporter

Bright decorations and floral displays adorned the University Ballroom as students and community members gathered to celebrate Dia de los Muertos Thursday afternoon.

Attendees had several activities to choose from, including the building of ofrendas, creating masks, making nichos, having their faces painted and participating in a cultural scavenger hunt.

Margaret Mauthe, a body artist brought in from Chicago to do traditional Dia de los Muertos face paint, said she had been painting faces and bodies for more than 15 years.

“It’s a another part of (my work), the skulls and such,” Mauthe said. “I do a lot of caricatures.”

Gary Henigman, an Eastern alumnus, said he had attended the Dia de los Muertos celebration in the past and thoroughly enjoyed it.

“I like the bright colors and the festivity of it all,” Henigman said. “The culture reveres and remembers the dead and celebrates rather than mourns.”

Henigman said his favorite part of the event was that it brought people together and taught them about the history behind Dia de los Muertos.

“They always have great activities here,” Henigman said. “The face painting is awesome.”

Areshman management major Darriona Thurman said she decided to attend the event to learn more about Dia de los Muertos.

“I think it’s good that they’re celebrating this for a minority group on the campus,” Thurman said. 

“I feel like it’s very interesting that they’re holding things like this, because a lot of people might not want to celebrate stuff like this. It gives the minorities a chance to feel like they are celebrated and that their cultures do matter.”

Thurman said she was surprised at some of the things she learned from the event.

“We have been talking about (Dia de los Muertos) in class, but I really don’t know a lot about it,” Thurman said. “I didn’t know that they have stuff in Chicago. I’m from there, so didn’t know that they had a museum there. I’m learning more about these terms that they’re saying, like the cultural assimilation.”

Nicole Wheatley, a junior family and consumer sciences major, said she attended the Dia de los Muertos event last year.

“It’s my favorite holiday,” Wheatley said. “I learned about it in Spanish class.”

Tatyana Leyden, a sophomore special education major, said she had participated in Dia de los Muertos celebrations in high school, but that she preferred the one at Eastern.

“This is kind of laid back, which is nice,” Leyden said. “We never had the face painting, so seeing that is like ‘Wow you guys are going all out for students,’ and the little kids here too.”

One of the ofrendas displayed at the event was one honoring Oscar Romero created by Madison Ley, a senior elementary education major, along with Jaida Brockman and Erin Zurek.

Ley said she had learned about Romero in another class and decided to make the ofrenda for him.

“I think (Dia de los Muertos) is a great way to honor the dead,” Ley said. “In my family we don’t really have many rich traditions, so I think this is great. When you learn Spanish, you also learn the culture, so this is a great way to fully immerse yourself.

Mercury Bowen can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].