Usually, between Oct. 31 and Nov 2., the Hispanic/Latino traditional celebration Día de los Muertos is all about deceased ancestors, honoring the dead and family and, of course, bringing people together.
Weber State University and Ben Lomond High School, along with their chapter of Latinos in Action, hosted a celebration this year with the help of Tutulli Ballet Folklórico a local Ogden dance group that performs traditional Mexican dances, on Oct 27.
Tutilli Ballet Folklorico dancer Romina Perdomo said dancing and attending events, like the one hosted by Ben Lomond and LIA, is a way to carry on Hispanic traditions and show gratitude for her ancestors.
“It shows our loved ones how we respect them, care about them and shows them that they’re still with us,” Perdomo said.
The event had a traditional altar with a photo of la Virgen de Guadalupe, flowers, skulls, candles and other traditional Mexican decorations. Hispanics who celebrate usually maintain an altar in their home entailing all of the above.
Ben Lomond seniors and LIA members Susan De La Rosa and Maria Martinez said the event is geared toward inclusion and educating those who may not know about Día de los Muertos.
“The Day of the Dead celebrates the loss of loved ones and it’s a good way to get everyone in the community together,” De La Rosa said.
De La Rosa and Martinez said educating the Ogden community on Hispanic culture is especially important in Utah.
“No one really understands it. They think it’s just a day where we just dress up,” De La Rosa said.
Día de los Muertos is the opposite of a typical Western culture’s way of mourning or remembrance. Mexican culture believes the dead are insulted by sadness and mourning. Instead, the culture advocates parties with food and drink the deceased enjoyed in life.
“It keeps memories alive,” WSU student Betzy Carrasco said. “Your parents will tell you about family you didn’t know, so you can learn more about who you came from and who you’re bringing along on your journey.”
WSU’S Diversity and Inclusive Programs held their annual Día de los Muertos event on Nov. 1, which also had a combination of traditional altars, food, lively music and a live performance from Ballet Folklórico. Guests had their faces painted to represent the colorful calaveras, or sugar skulls, that often adorn altars.
This event helps Hispanic/Latino students share these important traditions from their culture with the community around them.
“Even though it’s Día de los Muertos, it’s not just Latinos, they have people from all cultures here,” attendee Janellie Valmaceda said. “Everyone can participate, not just one culture, and I think that’s amazing about celebrating like this because it brings everyone together.”