The living enjoy the Day of the Dead

On Sunday afternoon a pink, yellow, blue, and red paper banner draped the door to Hutchinson Commons. Scores of students gathered in the hall, decorated with paintings and drawings paying homage to dead ancestors and friends. Colorful tables bore ofrendas such as bright paper flowers, candles, and sweets, made by students from the U of C chapter of Movimento Estudiantil Chicano de Atzlán (MEChA), who organized the event: a celebration of Dìa de los Muertos. The holiday, celebrated primarily in Mexico on the first and second of November, honors the dead, so loved ones can both mourn and celebrate them. Although many cultures celebrate their dead, many aspects of the Mexican holiday can be traced back to the ancient Aztecs and the Maya, who were mostly eradicated by colonizing Spaniards.

The organizers invited several performers to the two-hour MEChA celebration, including the folk band Fandanguero and the Aztec-dance troupe Mestizarte, who performed in traditional costumes. The students also offered their guests food—beans, rice, fajitas de pollo, and pan de muerto, a traditional holiday treat of sweet glazed bread loaves.

Watch the Mestizarte dance troupe perform in Hutch. Based in Pilsen, the group uses traditional dance to connect with their ancestral and cultural roots.

Mestizarte at Dia de los Muertos from University of Chicago Magazine on Vimeo.

Rose Schapiro, '09

November 3, 2008