TUESDAY, OCTOBER 20
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma City University will celebrate Day of the Dead with a series of events beginning with an altar installation Oct. 29 and culminating with a festival Nov. 1, the beginning of the actual two-day holiday.
The Nov. 1 celebration will be held from 4-7 p.m. at the Meinders School of Business at N.W. 27th Street and McKinley Avenue. The events are free to the public.
They will include a 4 p.m. screening of two short documentaries — “Celebrating the Day of the Dead” and “The Day of the Dead in Janitzio.” Traditional Mexican music and dancing will follow until 7 p.m. Guests may also sample some of the foods that are central to Day of the Dead including molé chicken, tamales, hot chocolate and decorated breads. There will be artistic altars on display created by OCU students for the occasion.
Dia de los Muertos, Spanish for Day of the Dead, is observed more prominently in Mexico, the country serving as this semester’s “Intersections” cultural studies class series at OCU.
Teresa Rendon, professor of the “Intersections: Mexico” course, said she learned a lot about the holiday while teaching in Mexico City for three years and specializing in Latin American culture. Rendon will teach her students about Day of the Dead traditions during the three-day sociology course.
“I was very impressed and intrigued by the different ways Dia de los Muertos is celebrated,” Rendon said. “It is now an annual tradition in my family.”
Day of the Dead has roots in both the Christian tradition and the Aztec culture. Día de los Muertos occurs each year on Nov. 1 and 2 in connection with the Catholic observance of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. Rendon said it also traces its origins to the centuries-old Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl, "Lady of the Dead."
To celebrate Día de los Muertos, many people build private altars to honor their deceased family members and friends. The altars may incorporate personal or sacred items that were important to the deceased and may include decorated sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite food and drink of the deceased. Families visit the cemetery where their loved ones are buried and clean the grave sites prior to constructing altars and laying out foods, beverages, flowers and favorite possessions at the site.