The Day of the Dead folkloric tale is so full of traditions a little on the macabre side — graves, skeletons, souls rising from the dead to roam the streets — it might be easy to forget the most important part of it.
The Mexican holiday Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is actually a seasonal celebration of life.
During the day, participants visit cemeteries and build ofrendas, or altars dedicated to their deceased loved ones, said Crystal Garcia, assistant director of Student Life at the University of Oklahoma and organizer of the annual celebration.
“It is literally like what we do for Memorial Day; we go to cemeteries and we put flowers on the grave,” she said. “Then we just kind of pay tribute to them. It’s that exact same thing — times 10.”
For the third year in a row, Garcia has worked to bring the rituals and the festival surrounding them to the University of Oklahoma campus to cap off Hispanic Heritage Month. OU students, faculty and staff as well as the public can participate in the event, held from 6-10 p.m. Oct. 31 at the Walker Adams Mall.
What to expect
You’ll see costumes and dozens of faces painted to resemble calaveras, or the sugar skulls adorned with elaborate and colorful designs. Garcia said the face painting is one tradition OU carried over from the traditional Day of the Dead, in which people paint their faces to blend in with their loved ones who’ve risen from the grave.