Dia de Los Muertos | A Soulful Celebration

A woman who has Dia de Los Muerta make up on her faceStudents and Community Invited to Join Dia de los Muertos Celebration

University of Idaho Office of Multicultural Affairs invites students and community members to participate in the 14th annual Día de los Muertos ("Day of the Dead") celebration in the Student Union Building Ballroom at 5 p.m. on October 30.

This centuries old Mexican tradition is celebrated by people of various faiths and cultural backgrounds to honor their ancestors and deceased loved ones. The indigenous people of Mexico believed that souls did not die, but continued to live in Mictlán, a special resting place. In Mictlán, it was believed that the spirits rested until the day they were allowed to return to their homes to visit their relatives. To welcome those who had died, families would build altars in dedication.

To celebrate, the university’s Dia de Los Muertos Planning Committee is sponsoring an alter-building competition which is open to individual students, groups and community members. Making a "Day of the Dead" altar is a way for people to honor the life of someone who was important to them, or to remember their ancestors. In addition, there will be a Calaveras writing contest. Calaveras (Spanish for “skull”) are short poems that are festive and satirical, often written in the form of an epigram and used to criticize well-known individuals. The poems often describes how the person died and what his or her afterlife would be like, but can also be used to describe political or social events.
Both contests are open to individuals and groups.  

Application Deadline Oct. 25
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“We’ve mostly had 300-level Spanish classes participate, but this year it’s expanding to French classes, some non-Latino Fraternities, and we might even have some non-Latino sororities come in,” said Modern Languages and Cultures Department Chair Irina Kappler-Crookston. “It would be cool if in the future we could include some international students and get them involved.”

She added that as the culture of the United States continues to change, and there are more people celebrating the Dia de los Muertos holiday. The goal of the celebration at the University is to create a community-wide event and bring all cultures together to celebrate one tradition.

“We have a strong presence of our Latino community [at Idaho], and it’s wonderful to see people outside that community celebrate together,” she said.

The altars will be displayed for viewing in the SUB Ballroom on October 30 from 5 - 7 p.m., and prizes will be awarded for the best alter and Calaveras. Other activities include presentations and dancing to educate the community about the Mexican tradition, and to celebrate those represented by the altars. Across the street at the St. Augustine’s Dining Hall, the Multicultural Greek Council will be putting on a Cena de Dia de los Muertos dinner. The cost is $7.

For more information contact the Office of Multicultural Affairs in TLC 230 or call (208) 885-7716.