Day of the dead event celebrates Mexican culture

In order to remember those that have passed, students and local artist Diane Kurzyna created recyclable art at a Day of the Dead event held in the South Puget Sound Community College Student Union Building on Nov. 2 and 3.

A holiday that originated in Latin American countries, El Dia de los Muertos, The Day of the Dead, pays respect to relatives and loved ones who are no longer alive during a happy and colorful celebration.

As a part of SPSCC’s celebration there was bread and hot chocolate, an altar decorated with vibrant sugar skulls, and a table full of supplies to make skeleton dolls with Kurzyna, also known as “Ruby Re-Usable” due to her emphasis on using recycled materials for art.

“I really hope that I get invited back next year,” said Kurzyna. “Every year I learn more stuff about the Day of the Dead so I learn more stuff to incorporate into the project.” This is Kurzyna’s second year working at the event.

One SPSCC student used the crafting station as a way to unwind from their hectic lives.

“I needed a creative outlet,” said student Diversity and Equity Club and BRICK member Adrianna Moore. The project was an outlet for Moore to relax and not worry about other stresses.

During the second day of the event Kurzyna provided, sugar skulls available to decorate with a variety of bright sequins, feathers, and frosting.

SPSCC Spanish Professor Scott Saunders brought his class to decorate them as well.

During the making and decorating of the sugar skulls, Saunders told his class about his experience with the holiday during the year he lived in Mexico studying Spanish.

Although he lived with a family in Mexico, they did not normally celebrate the holiday. He wanted to participate in the holiday as part of his cultural immersion so he set up a small altar on top of their television with things he purchased at the market. They woke that morning to see the altar made by Saunders to celebrate the lives of deceased family members.

Intensive English, grammar, and reading Professor Janelle Garcia experienced Mexican culture through her time visiting in the country and her marriage.

She went on both a mission trip and a study abroad trip later on while in college to the country.
“[The mission trip] was really when I started to fall in love with the Mexican culture and the Mexican people. It felt like even though the people were really poor economically they had really rich traditions and a really rich way of life,” said Garcia.

The family she was married into honors the holiday through a family dinner or sometimes a special prayer for their dead relatives. It is difficult for Garcia and her husband to fully celebrate the holiday because none of her husband’s family members are buried in the United States.

According to Garcia it is crucial to her husband for him to be buried in his home nation of Mexico. He wants a very joyful celebration in place of a somber funeral, in the same way that El Dia de los Muertos is honored in a happy manner.

According to Garcia the Day of the Angels occurs the day before the Day of the Dead. Garcia said that it is another tradition for some in Mexico to leave out cookies, water or sand on the eve of The Day of the Angels as an offering to spirits of younger people.

Overall Garcia enjoys her ties to Mexican culture and the time she spent in the country getting to see the people live first hand.

“They depended a lot on faith, they depended a lot on each other and I just saw so much peace and so much happiness,” she said.