– November 15th, 2013 by Andrew Benoit –
Day of the dead return big hit on campus
Dia de los Muertos or Day of the dead is a Mexican festival to honor and remember the dead. Colby-Sawyer officially celebrated Nov. 1 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in Wheeler Hall. The event featured music, food and elaborate alters to honor the departed.
Surrounding the room were alters dedicated to the departed, two of these honored deceased Colby-Sawyer faculty members Social Science and Education Scholar Dexter Burley and Assistant Professor of Fine and Performing Arts Julie Vogt.
I was really pleased with this year’s event. Even though we got a late start on planning it, it was by all accounts, the best attended so far. The event was hosted by the 20013-2014 Progressive Scholars and Robin Davis’ Pathway, who did an incredible job of decorating the room and constructing a traditional altar. A major highlight was the altar dedicated to Dexter Burley,” said Professor and Chair of the Multi-disciplinary Studies Department Randy Hanson.
There were many different dishes to choose from including a make your own taco bar with a variety of ingredients.
“My favorite part was that people from many different cultures getting into it and enjoying it,” senior Bernard Botchway stated.
Many students, faculty and staff members as well as community members came to observe the event. The festivities also included a raffle. “It’s (the prize) not dead I promise,” Botchway joked while announcing the raffle.
Dia de los Muertos lasts two days Nov. 1 and 2; it’s celebrated primarily in Mexico and to a lesser extent other areas of Latin America and the United States.
According to Hanson, The Day of the Dead is “a holiday that mixes both pre-Hispanic practices and beliefs with Catholic ones. Definitely it is not like Halloween. It is not a scary holiday but a celebration of life and family and bonds that survive death. So you welcome the dead home with food, music, flowers, incense, and some of their personal belongings.”
The holiday is meant to honor dead loved ones and remove the fear of death by celebrating instead of mourning those who have passed. To celebrate, people construct alters to departed loved ones including pictures of the deceased and pieces of art and food as offerings to the dead.
The holiday is marked by bright colors and lavishly decorated depictions of skulls and skeletons. A lot of day of the dead art employs a contrast between white and black.
Colby-Sawyer College began its formal celebration of Day of the Dead in 1997. Hanson said, “I started it because I wanted to share Mexican culture with the CSC community. Also, not too long before I came here a member of my Mexican family had died. I had planned to honor him with an altar and a colleague suggested that I do an altar and talk about Day of the Dead as part of the Books Sandwiched In series. “