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Opinion: Día de los Muertos and its impact on UNM students

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a traditional Mexican holiday that predates as far back as the Aztec era. It is an important holiday for the Mexican population since it celebrates both life and death.

The holiday is often celebrated for two days –  Nov. 1 - 2 – though it can vary, and celebrations may occur anywhere from Oct. 31 - Nov. 6. El Centro de La Raza’s revolved around the traditions of Día de los Muertos throughout the week.

El Centro held a week of commemoration of Día de los Muertos. Each day of the week revolved around an on-going tradition in the holiday.

On Oct. 23, they created a Tapete de Aserrin and on Oct. 25 there was a sugar skull decorating event where the public was invited to create their own sugar skull with materials provided by Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (M.E.Ch.A.).

There are several traditional ways to celebrate Dia de los Muertos, and the events held by El Centro constitute merely a few. Each are done in remembrance and to honor the dead.

On Thursday, Oct. 25, El Centro put up an altar in front of their building with the help of special guests such as Frida Sanchez and Luis Alberto Perez, showcasing a sawdust drawing of Mictlantecuhtli drawn in front of it by UNM student Emma Loya.

The final event on Oct. 27 occurred in front of the same altar, celebrated by all attendees and led by Doña Laura Hidalgo. She led the ceremony through teaching attendees and guests the beautiful history of Dia De Los Muertos. Afterwards, she played an instrument while others approached the Ofrenda and personally paid tribute to someone they’ve lost.

This holiday plays a significant role for many people and can be very comforting to those who celebrate it. It allows people to remember the departed and celebrate a loved one’s life and offer closure.

El Centro and M.E.Ch.A. provided many things for the student body over the course of this holiday. They created a space for a very important Mexican tradition and reminded students and others that death can be beautiful when looking back on the lives of loved ones who have passed on.

Kat Gomez is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. They can be reached at or on Twitter @DailyLobo

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