Celebrating the Day of the Dead

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a cultural holiday giving families a chance to pray for and remember the lives of their deceased relatives to help them on their spiritual journey. Although it originated in Mexico, the three-day celebration has gained in popularity across the U.S. and all Latinx communities in recent years. The event runs from Oct. 31 through Nov. 2. 

In past years, members of Bradley’s Latinx organizations have celebrated the event as a way to provide unity and bring members of their community together. Junior and math education major Isabella Saucedo, a member of Alpha Psi Lambda the co-ed Latinx fraternity hosting the event, said while it may not be as large as last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be lots of things Mexican students can do to connect to their heritage. Others can use it as an opportunity to learn more about Mexican culture 

This year’s plan includes setting up the altar, or ofrenda, in the Michel Student Center atrium, rather than in the Cullom-Davis Library as has been done in the past. The altar will remain for all three days.

“That way there’ll be traffic and more people will see it,” said Saucedo. “We’re also planning on leaving like a box of blank picture frames on the side of the table as well, in case anybody who walks past wants to include a picture of a loved one.” 

Activities planned for Nov. 2 will be held on Olin Quad. Alpha Psi Lambda planned the festivities in conjunction with other campus Latinx organizations, including ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals for America), ALAS (Association of Latin American Students), SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers), Sigma Lambda Gamma (sorority) and Sigma Lambda Beta (fraternity). 

Each group will have a table with giveaways for students who stop by, such as paint your own suncatchers or paint your own candle holders. There’ll be a photo booth and women dressed like La Catrina — the famous tall female skeleton wearing a fancy hat with feathers — as well as traditional music. 

“We wanted to make (the event) as safe as possible, but still celebrate our cultural heritage,” said Saucedo.

Safety meant food would not be allowed and any giveaways had to be individually pre-packaged. Students can pick up craft activities at the participating tables and take them back to their residence hall or living space.

Despite the challenges the pandemic has brought to hosting an event, Saucedo hopes this year’s Day of the Dead festival will be well attended, especially by members of the Latinx community. 

“I think it’s important to embrace everybody’s culture at Bradley, and to be aware and become educated about it,” she said. “When I came to Bradley, it wasn’t until I started seeing some events from the Latinx organizations that I felt more comfortable. I felt like I was more at home because my home is pretty much completely surrounded by culture.

“We all felt like it was important to provide those opportunities for the Latinx students to celebrate their culture, as well as educate their peers on why their culture means so much and matters so much to them ... It’s definitely going to bring us closer together.”

Some media in Bradley University's current print, video and online materials was acquired before the COVID-19 pandemic. Media acquired after the pandemic began was done so in compliance with Bradley's COVID-19 safety protocols at the time. The ongoing safety of our faculty, staff and students is of the utmost concern during these unprecedented times.

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All photos were from celebrations in previous years.