by: Grace Wood
Photo by Ariel Chen
La Comunidad Resistiendo y Existiendo hosted UC Irvine’s annual Day of the Dead celebration at the Student Center for the local community on Nov. 1. The night included student art, face painting, a photo booth, an arts and crafts table, musical performances and food.
“As the Latinx community here on campus is growing, it’s really important to always stay in tune with our roots and honor our traditions and customs and just become a more inclusive campus,” said Fatima Bravo, member of LaCRE’s campus partner Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan (M.E.Ch.A) de UC Irvine.
Dia de los Muertos is a Latinx holiday that celebrates deceased loved ones. Families create altars filled with photographs, food and other items related to the deceased. It is believed that spirits of the dead return to the living by following the scent of cempasuchil, orange flowers left on the altars.
LaCRE made the stage into a community altar with poster displays in honor of the deceased, calaveritas, educational resources and orange, purple and white flowers. The different colors of the flowers signify guidance for the deceased, grief and heaven. LaCRE also welcomed community members to make their own contributions to the altar, whether they had a paper flower or a picture of a loved one.
Ballet Folklorico de UCI performed in front of the stage as part of the festivities. Dancers with faces half painted as calaveras danced in the traditional styles and clothing of various Mexican states.
Additionally, attendees danced along to live tamborazo music. Dancers included UCI students, families and a team of middle school cross-country runners.
LaCRE also offered complimentary pan de muerto, pan dulce and hot chocolate to participants while they made paper flowers, painted their faces like calaveras or learned more about the Latinx campus clubs.
For many, Dia de los Muertos represents a time to be with family and to remember those who have passed on. LaCRE echoed that sentiment in their celebration.
“I haven’t felt this home vibe since moving out to Irvine because it seems that a lot of the culture is not majority Latinx, “ said third year student Noel Verduzco. “It just reminds you of the Mexican families, the Mexican parties — just home to me.”