Photo Essay: The Día De Los Muertos Celebration at UCSD

On Tuesday November 1st, the University of California San Diego’s campus danced with the spirit of culture and collective. The Día De Los Muertos Celebration, hosted by Chicanx and Latinx Studies, Latin American Studies, & Raza Resource Centro, set the tone for an evening of celebration and joy. Traditional food, music, dance, and ocean views were all part of the abundance enjoyed during the event.
Later in the evening as the sun set Muir Quad turned into the backdrop of a great ceremony with more Ballet Folkorico, dreamy Mariachi’s, and a clever DJ. Delicious food and drinks like Champurrado, Pan Dulce, and Tamales were provided for dinner to further feed student’s souls. The event was more than a success. The grandness of these celebrations are a reflection of the love participants held for their deceased family during their time on earth. It is a love that transcends space and time. Everything, from the flowers to the mariachis is intended to please the visiting souls believed to return to earth during the two day celebrations.
Ceremonies to honor the dead were celebrated in mesoamerica long before colonization. The Spanish Catholic church went on to co-opt this Indigenous holiday into its holy calendar. This is why Día de Los Muertos takes place on what is also known as All Saints Day and All Souls Day on November 1st and 2nd. This history is a part of why Día de los Muertos in Latin America is so influential in our culture. The holiday’s call for celebration transcends racial, ethnic, and religious borders making it a true day of unification among all the dead and living. We celebrated this beautiful tradition on campus while holding deep gratitude for the unceded land we are guests on, Kumeyaay Land. Much of our mourning includes the life and ecological loss as a result of processes like colonization. We celebrate our own as well as the earth’s resilience.

Behind a lot of the students who showed up that night is an altar, a candle, and many sets of praying hands – this is why we dance, eat, sing, and offer flowers in the face of such a notorious phenomenon such as death. These ceremonies help ensure passed on loved ones have access to what they loved in their life through their descendants who dance and breathe for them. Thank you to students and staff that worked hard to bring this night of celebration and fun to life.