Sandra Gonzalez, an economics professor at Yuba College, gave a presentation concerning Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) at the latest installment of the Crossing Borders Building Bridges series on November 3rd at room 724.
Gonzalez stressed the importance of seeing the above celebration for what it is (a celebration of someone’s life and an acknowledgment of the full circle of life) and not painting a false portrait of this festive occasion. Gonzalez stated that Dia de los Muertos has been celebrated in Mexico prior to the Spanish conquest in the fifteenth century and that this holiday does not honor death.
Dia de los Muertos, said Gonzalez, is not a cult and has Catholic, Christian, and ritualistic roots. The above holiday, Gonzalez elaborated, honors deceased relatives via the “ofrendas” (offerings) that are placed on the altars of the graves. Food, beverages, flowers, and prayers are offered to the dead and, said Gonzalez, the symbols of Dia de los Muertos are marigolds, salt and water, incense (“copal”), food, flower crosses, and sugar skulls.
Gonzalez showed those in attendance a video concerning the baking and offerings associated with Dia de los Muertos. Gonzalez cited examples of recently deceased individuals as people that we can remember through the tradition of the aforementioned holiday. “You could build an altar for Michael Jackson”, said Gonzalez, and after the presentation she invited everyone present to taste some traditional sweet bread.