October 24, 2003

SDSU Library Celebrates Día de los Muertos

Día de los Muertos —the Day of the Dead— is the joyous Mexican tradition of remembering and spiritually reconnecting with departed loved ones.The San Diego State University Library will celebrate this tradition with an exhibit and several events throughout October and November.

Through November 15, the Special Collections Department will feature an exhibit of items associated with Día de los Muertos. The ceremonial items are on loan from Back from Tomboctou, a Normal Heights gallery specializing in traditional Mexican art. The exhibit is located in Special Collections Library Addition Room 4410.

The library will also host its annual Día de los Muertos celebration, hosted by librarian Cecilia Puerto, on October 29. The event will begin with a slide show/lecture by Professor Emerita Janet Esser at 12 p.m. in Library Addition Room 4450. Activities will continue in the Chicano Collection (Love Library Room 126) with the construction and decoration of a festive altar. Bring copies of photos, mementos, or objects that remind you of deceased loved ones to place on the altar to honor their memory. The altar will remain in Room 126 until November 21.

The exhibit, the slideshow, and the altar decorating are free and open to the public. For more information, please call (619) 594-6791.

DeadPlates: This ceramic platter featuring “La Doña de la Muerte” (Lady of the dead), was created by renowned ceramic artist Javier Ramos Lucano of Tonala, Mexico. Lucano will be demonstrating his craft on Saturday and Sunday, November 1 and 2, during the Días de los Muertos festivities at the Bazaar del Mundo.

Miramar College Celebrates “Day Of The Dead”

MIRA MESA – The public is invited to experience the meaning, history and art of the Mexican celebration, Day of the Dead, on Friday, Oct. 24 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Mira-mar College in lecture hall I-101.

On the first and second of November, Mexicans traditionally remember their departed loved ones, according to Miramar College Spanish Professor April Koch. November first is “El Día de Todos los Santos,” or the day that the souls of the dead children are remembered. November second, “El Día de los Muertos,” is the day to remember the dead adults.

This holiday of Catholic origin is most elaborately celebrated in Mexico. This age-old tradition is a very personal time for families to reflect on their own departed loved ones.

Those who celebrate Day of the Dead create an altar in their homes, decorated with “ofrendas” or offerings for the deceased. On a typical altar, one will see candles, which help the spirits see in the dark, the “cempasuchil” (marigold) flowers, whose strong scent and bright color also attract the spirits, photos of the departed, “calaveras de azucar” (sugar skulls) which often bear the name of the deceased, “el pan de muertos” (Day of the Dead bread), oranges, whose bright color and strong scent also attract the deceased, and favorite foods and beverages of the deceased.

Professor Koch will describe the traditions of Day of the Dead to those present with slides, photos, and folk art. This year’s presentation includes an altar dedicated to Jose Guadalupe Posada, the Mexican artist who has inspired Day of the Dead folk art.

Día de los Muertos Celebration Returns to Cal State San Marcos

On Thursday, Oct. 30, students, faculty and staff at Cal State San Marcos will share in the ancient Mexican celebration, Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. The university will host its eighth annual celebration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the campus’ Palm Court. A special presentation by event organizers will be held at noon.

Approximately 30 to 40 altars, or ofrendas, are scheduled to be on display. Students, staff and faculty are invited to create an ofrenda for a loved one that has died. In the past, altars have been created for individual family members, friends and pets and in honor of larger events or issues, such as 9/11 and world hunger. Altars will include a variety of items, including photos, candles or samples of the deceased’s favorite foods. Members of the public are invited to bring photographs, candles and mementos to include on an open altar.

The historic roots of Día de los Muertos date back more than 3,000 years to the pre-Columbian cultures of Meso-America. It was customary to bury the dead surrounded by their most precious and valuable belongings, along with food and provisions useful in their journey into the Mictlan, the afterlife.

In Mexico, Día de los Muertos traditionally takes place Nov. 1 and 2. On these days, altars and offerings are dedicated to the memory of deceased loved ones. The purpose is to welcome back the ánimas or souls to their homes or cemeteries. Favorite culinary dishes and the most treasured items of the deceased are placed at the altar for the souls to enjoy during their return visit.

The first Day of the Dead celebration at Cal State San Marcos took place in 1995 and was organized by Linda Amador, who was taking a visual arts course with Chicano artist David Avalos.

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