For the past several years, Day of the Dead was celebrated by Missouri State University’s Modern and Classical Languages department. According to associate Spanish professor Vanessa Rodriguez de la Vega, while the event is usually held on Oct. 31, it has been canceled for 2020.
According to Rodriguez de la Vega, the MCL department held the 4 Annual Day of the Dead Festival in the PSU on Oct. 31, 2019, which included activities such as creating sugar skulls, eating traditional foods tied to the celebration and listening to mariachi and marimba music.
What exactly is Day of the Dead (Dia De Los Muertos)?
While not a participant herself, Rodriguez de la Vega outlined how Dia De Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a mix between pre-Columbian rituals and traditions which were fused with Catholicism from arriving Spaniards.
Rodriguez de la Vega said many see Day of the Dead as a Mexican celebration, when in fact it is celebrated all across Latin America. She said while Halloween is mainly concerned with “spooky” things such as ghosts, artifacts and witches, Day of the Dead is focused on remembering deceased family members.
Day of the Dead eclipses Halloween, taking place from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. The three days of events in order are All Hallows Eve, All Saints' Day and All Souls Day. Together they form the event known as Allhallowtide.
Rodriguez de la Vega said she enjoys organizing the event each year and hopes it raises awareness of cultures.
“By celebrating this event at MSU, we are raising awareness about different cultural traditions,” Rodriguez de la Vega said. “Rather than borrowing some elements characteristic of Day of the Dead for fun — as can be seen in Halloween — people should make an effort to understand their meaning and to appreciate and respect others' cultures.”
These include low risk activities such as celebrating with family or members of your household, medium risk activities like visiting graves of loved ones while social distancing and high risk activities like attending large indoor gatherings that do not allow for social distancing.