Students Honor Deceased with Mexican Tradition
In honor of Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, Dr. Ulyses Balderas, associate professor of International Studies, along with several students minoring in Latin American studies, embraced the Mexican heritage of the student body by building a large ofrenda or alter to celebrate the holy day.
“When Dr. Balderas shared his intentions of displaying an ofrenda here at UST I was beyond excited,” said Fredi Rodriguez, psychology major. “Being in a different country, it’s very important to acknowledge our heritage. Our intention is to introduce students to this tradition and promote the importance of preserving a fundamental part of our Mexican identity.”
The ofrenda, displayed in the lobby of Anderson Hall, was made to incorporate the entire UST community and was dedicated to family, faculty and staff members that have passed. It’s three-level alter represents heaven, earth and hell, while the four elements wind, earth, fire and water were represented with papel picado, fruits, candles and water, respectively. Sugar skulls and skeletons were incorporated as a playful symbol of life after death.
“Growing up I discovered the beauty behind our traditions,” Rodriguez said. “Dia de los Muertos is a celebration of life and the permanence of our loved ones. Though they are no longer here, they become eternal by the footprints they leave in the hearts of those that remember them.”
Dia de los Muertos is an ancient tradition celebrated in Mexico dating back nearly 3,000 years that remembers friends and family members who have died. Traditions include building private ofrendas, preparing favorite foods and beverages of the deceased and visiting their graves with these gifts. Over time, through the influence of the Spanish and the Catholic Church, Dia de los Muertos became associated with the triduum of Allhallowtide, All Saints’ Eve, All Saints Day and All Souls Day.