Halloween is one of those holidays that is celebrated differently according to the many traditions and cultures that are represented all across the campuses of Salt Lake Community College.
For many Latin Americans, October 31 is about more than just a day for dressing up and receiving candy. It is about honoring and remembering those who have passed away.
“We don’t celebrate Halloween,” says Madelyn Parada, a SLCC student originally from El Salvador. “We kind of do something similar to what they do in Mexico on November 2, everything needs to be at the cemetery and we spend time with the family that has passed away. We take flowers, paint the tomb, make a ceremony and eat.”
El Dia de los Muertos, which roughly translates from Spanish to mean ‘The Day of the Dead,’ is a day to celebrate with loved ones in a similar way people celebrate Christmas or Thanksgiving here in the United States.
Unlike Halloween, this holiday has a deeper meaning to those who come from Latin American countries.
The celebration takes place at the cemetery and runs from October 31 until November 2.
Traditionally, most countries that celebrate it will make an altar with the photo of those whom they are honoring. The tombs are decorated and offerings of the deceased’s favorite food, with sugar skulls or marigolds being offered as well.
“We don’t really celebrate Halloween per se, even though some kids still dress up and get candy like we do here,” says Ricardo Merino former SLCC student originally from El Salvador, “but for the adults who are mostly catholic, it’s not a big holiday, it’s kind of dark.”
In Guatemala, they celebrate by constructing and flying giant kites.
They also prepare a Guatemalan dish of cold-cut meats called fiambre, and they visit the grave sites of their ancestors.
“We don’t do much for Halloween, people still dress up but it’s not a big thing,” says Evelyn Zapatier, former SLCC student originally from Ecuador. “We celebrate the day of the dead more, it is more important to our culture, we even get the day off from school and work.”
In Ecuador they visit their ancestor’s grave sites for a daylong activity of remembrance. They too bring traditional food such as colada morada, which is spiced fruit porridge and guaga de pan, which is bread shaped like a swaddled infant.
Even though this holiday can be quite expensive for the people who celebrate it, for them, it’s worth it.
Latin culture honors the dead and believes if the spirits are happy they will provide protection, good luck and wisdom to their families.
This year, SLCC Cultural Events will be presenting a Dia de Los Muertos celebration on Saturday, Nov. 1 at the Student Event Center at Taylorsville Redwood Campus from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
That same night, a Dia de Los Muertos dance will also be held at the same location from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. All students are welcome.