Honoring the Dead, Mexican-Style, at GCC

Carolina Diaz, Staff Writer

In Mexican culture, Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a crucial day meant to honor those who have passed away. The celebration is a happy occasion.

“In small towns, it is typical to drop petals of marigold flowers to create a path to guide an ancestor’s spirit from the cemetery to the altar in their relatives’ homes in case they have forgotten the way,” said Lourdes Girardi, a Spanish professor and the Language Arts division chair.

Family members make altars decorated with marigolds. In the culture, it is known as the flower of the dead. The dead are also honored with pictures, objects they loved and the food the departed loved to eat.

On Nov. 2 at Glendale Community College the Spanish club and Spanish department, thanks to generous help from Associate Students of Glendale Community College, celebrated Dia de Los Muertos in the Plaza Vaquero, according to organizers.

Students enjoyed cheese and pork tamales, and pan de muerto (bread of the dead), a sweet bread roll that is traditional to the Mexican culture. Students had the opportunity to have a half or full face paint of a skull, too.

“We want to bring culture to GCC, teach the students of the other celebrations different cultures have,” said Girardi.

The Aztecs believed that the transition from one year to the next was a 60-day period, according to Stacy Jazan, a GCC Spanish professor.

When the Spanish conquistadors came to Mexico, they prohibited the indigenous people from celebrating their traditions. They wanted to unify the land under their own traditions and beliefs. That is how they blended both their traditions and how the holiday, Day of the Dead, started.

The Spanish club brought the entertainment. Adela Garcia, a student, was the one who was in contact with the group that performed a native dance for 30 minutes. The dance, which hails from the Aztec region, is colorful and vibrant. With their colorful clothing and their gigantic headsets made out of feathers, they danced to honor the dead.

“Enjoy the day, breath the fresh air, smile that you are still here,” said Cris Calvillo, member of the group Xocoyote.