Day of the Dead Honors Family


Laura Castillo’s Drawing

By Lizett Castillo

Dia De Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is celebrated in Latin America and other countries to honor family particularly the link between those living and deceased.

College of Southern Nevada Spanish Professor David Schultz said, “The belief on Day of the Dead is that on a certain day the border between the living and the dead can be passed. The living and the dead aren’t thought to be living in separate, circumscribed realms.”

“The Buddhist priest Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us that down to our very DNA, in a sense we are our ancestors,” Schultz said. “By failing to honor them, we also fail to honor ourselves.”

This tradition takes place on Nov. 1 and 2. According to Vanderbilt University’s Center for Latin American Studies article titled “El Dia De Los Muertos History and Customs” the celebration is typically tied to the Catholic Church and Spanish colonization of Mexico and other Latin-American countries in the 16th century.

Despite the connections between Spain and the Catholic Church some historians have found that Native Americans in the historical regions from Central Mexico to Honduras were celebrating their dead ancestors long before.

According to CSN Professor of history of Mexico Dr. Sondra Cosgrove, “Mexican states nearest to the Valley of Mexico tend to observe Dia De Los Muertos because their indigenous peoples adopted Toltec and Aztec cultural practices.”

CSN celebrated Day of the Dead at the Henderson campus on Oct. 31. Celebrations included a traditional altar with pictures of deceased loved ones, colorful skulls, and food to honor family and friends.

Summer Shams, CSN student, helped create the altar at the Henderson campus. “Celebrating Day of the Dead is important to me because although they’re no longer physically here with us anymore, we should still remember and honor [our family]. When someone passes away his or her legacy will still live on through us: loved ones.”

Desiree Feller, CSN student, also participated in the creation of the altar at the Henderson campus. Feller who is of Filipino descent mentioned some of her cultural practices resemble those from Mexico. “In the Philippines it is like the Mexico of Asia. The two cultures are very similar and for both it’s important to honor family.” Even though she is not of Latin decent she observes Dia De Los Muertos.

“The Day of the Dead is truly a celebration of life,” according to University of Mexico’s website. “When children dance with caricatures of death, eat skull sugar molds and learn to respect that life is brief, they learn there is a circle to life and to not fear death and then are free to enjoy and appreciate every moment.”

%d bloggers like this: