Arts & Life, Events

‘Celebrating life’ at CSULB’s Día de los Muertos

Tied to bright marigolds are names of deceased loved ones, placed carefully by students between candles and sugar skulls on a colorful altar. 

Associated Students Inc. and Beach Pride Events celebrated Día de los Muertos at Long Beach State Oct. 31.

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday where the dead are reunited with the living Oct. 31 through Nov. 2. Families and friends celebrate their deceased loved ones with ofrendas, offerings, to invite their souls to visit the realm of the living. These offerings are placed on an altar, consisting of the dead’s favorite foods, drinks to quench their thirst from the journey and lit candles for visibility. 

Liliana Vallejo, a third-year communications major, stood by the altar, staring at the marigold she placed on top of it. The marigold, which is used in the holiday for its bright color and pleasant scent to entice spirits to the altars, was for her grandfather and uncle. Tears welled in Vallejo’s eyes as she remembered her grandfather. 

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Students write names of their deceased loved ones and attach them to marigolds to place on the altar for Dia de los Muertos.

Paris Barraza/Daily Forty-Niner

“My grandfather was a first-generation immigrant,” Vallejo said. “He showed [me] how to fight to our last day. He was a person I admired.” 

Like Vallejo, other students in attendance talked about somebody they loved who had passed, including grandmothers, uncles and even pets. 

Alyssa Lopez, a second-year nursing major, appreciated Día de los Muertos the celebration at CSULB. 

“It allows you to remember all your loved ones,” Lopez said. “It’s not about mourning.”

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The altar at Dia de los Muertos offers information on the importance of each item placed on it.

Paris Barraza/Daily Forty-Niner

Beach Pride events coordinator Parker Chalmers directed students walking into the event to check-in. According to Chalmers, CSULB ASI has celebrated Día de los Muertos for over 10 years.  

“Each year we try to bring in more elements, especially authentic elements,” Chalmers said.

This year featured live music, arts and crafts, as well as traditional foods and beverages like aguas frescas, horchata and pan de muerto, sweet bread baked specifically for the holiday to be eaten as well as placed on altars. 

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Students color Dia de los Muertos themed stencil Oct. 31.

Paris Barraza/Daily Forty-Niner

Jackie Anty, a third-year healthcare administration major, volunteered to help at Dia de los Muertos. Anty said it was an opportunity to engage with a holiday that is integral to where she comes from. 

“My parents come from a Hispanic background. It’d be good to continue this culture,” Anty said.

She helped students paint picture frames that they could take home and insert a photo of their loved ones to create their own altar. 

According to Chalmer, over 200 students attended, the largest amount of students the event has seen. 

“What I like to see the most when people from the culture who know about the holiday, they bring friends and explain things to friends who might not know why we do [things like] marigold,” Chalmers said. “You’re on a campus that appreciates all cultures.”

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Jesus Gonzalez, a second-year sociology major, attaches names of deceased loved ones to marigolds on the altar for Dia de los Muertos Oct. 31.

Paris Barraza/Daily Forty-Niner

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