GV Office of Multicultural Affairs observes Day of the Dead


GVL / Bri Conway

Zoë Murphy, Staff Writer

Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, is a holiday originating in Mexico that is celebrated throughout the world. At Grand Valley State University, the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) held its annual celebration the first week in November.

The OMA’s mission is based on observing, encouraging and engaging in collaboration between the different cultures of students on campus. The OMA holds various cultural heritage celebrations throughout the year, like Día de los Muertos.

The Day of the Dead is a holiday rooted in historical significance and the celebration of ancestry. The basis of the holiday is acknowledging the death of loved ones and honoring their lives. People often gather with family members and remember those who are no longer with them through music, games, prayer and food.

“The Day of the Dead, el Día de los Muertos, is a Mexican holiday where families welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives for a brief reunion that includes food, drink and celebration,” said Assistant Director of OMA Thalia Guerra-Flores. “(It is) a blend of Mesoamerican ritual, European religion and Spanish culture. The holiday is celebrated each year from Oct. 31 through Nov. 2.”

At GVSU, the Día de los Muertos celebration is made up of multiple distinguishing aspects.

“There is an altar put up, with pictures of family members, homemade decorations, food and music and there was a showing of the movie ‘Coco’ in the office,” said OMA employee Jocelyn Medina.

The altar is a dedication to family members and friends who have passed away. It’s a “celebration of life,” according to GVSU junior Mayra Sedano-Rodriguez, who’s part of the OMA.

Sedano-Rodriguez said other members of the OMA have set up photos of their deceased relatives and placed items of remembrance to accompany their photos. This gives the altar a personal element, putting a physical face to those who are being honored.

The altar, known as an ofrenda, is a colorful display including things like framed photos of deceased family members, flowers, artwork, colorful skulls and even some of the deceased’s favorite things like candy or musical instruments.

“We celebrate by having our OMA ofrenda up through the week and giving out Pan de Muerto, Bread of the Dead, on Nov. 1 along with hot chocolate and coffee,” Guerra-Flores said.

The altar was constructed on Monday, Nov. 1 ahead of the observance of the Day of the Dead on Nov. 2. GVSU students, faculty and staff are encouraged to come, pay their respects and observe the celebration.