Chatham’s Day of the Dead event series continues to be an exciting and successful celebration! Held for the first time in 2018, the series consists of two events that educate the Chatham community on the international holiday and offer opportunities to celebrate the traditions and act in the spirit of the day.
The series is sponsored by the Jennie King Mellon (JKM) Library, Modern Languages, the Multicultural Affairs Office, and the Counseling Center as part of Chatham’s Latinx Heritage Month celebrations. The events have been held in the JKM Library for the past two years.
Our first event this year, held on October 21st, consisted of a workshop run by students from Mildred Lopez-Escudero’s LNG261 Spanish language course, where attendees learned about the history and reach of el dia de los Muertos. The attendees created cempasuchil (paper flowers) together for addition to the ofrenda (altar). The group then worked together to decorate our 2019 dia de los Muertos ofrenda.
Previous to the event, the library sent out a survey to the Chatham community asking for ofrenda honoree nominations. After a final round of voting, the community selected the Tree of Life Victims, Victims of Gun Violence, and Trans Women of Color who were killed in 2019. These groups held a place of honor on our ofrenda this year.
At our second event of the series, Chatham University’s Counseling Services ran a workshop on grief. The discussion focused on sharing experiences and memories of loved ones who have passed and discussing ways to cope with grief. The group also discussed ways to honor those loved ones. This is the major element of el dia de los Muertos. Remembering and honoring loved ones who have passed allows communities to life up their ancestors, celebrate life, and cope with grief. It’s healing through celebration; honoring both death and life.
After the discussion, the group made paper Monarch butterflies and decorated them with glitter, rhinestones, and other embellishments. Some people wrote the names of their loved ones on their butterfly or messages of remembrance to send out into the universe. The butterflies were added to the ofrenda in honor of the attendees’ loved ones. Both events featured refreshments of traditional Mexican hot chocolate and pan de muerto (Bread of the Dead) to share. Both were prepared by university catering following traditional Mexican recipes.
Almost 60 people attended this year’s event series, an increase over last year. We love this event series and are excited to continue offering it in the future. A big thank you to the Jennie King Mellon Library, Mildred Lopez-Escudero and the Modern Languages Department, Elsa Arce and Counseling Services, and Randi Congleton and the Multicultural Affairs Office.
You can read more about our Day of the Dead celebrations in our blog post from last year’s events, as well as in this post on PULSE@Chatham. Click through our gallery of images to get a good look at what these celebrations entailed.