By Mackenzie Jutras '22, Media Team
Wrapping up this fall season at Marianapolis Preparatory School, we recently finished celebrating Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Dia de los Muertos is a celebration of life and death. “It originated several thousand years ago with the Aztec, Toltec, and other Nahua people, who all considered the mourning of the dead disrespectful, as in these cultures death was a natural phase in life’s long continuum” (2). The dead were still considered members of the community, kept alive in memory and in spirit (1).
The holiday is now celebrated all over Latin America, with colorful calaveras (skulls) and calacas (skeletons). It involves festivities that extend over a two day period in an explosion of color and life-affirming joy. The main theme of Dia de los Muertos is all about expressing and spreading love and remembrance towards deceased family members. According to National Geographic, “In towns and cities throughout Mexico, revelers don funky makeup and costumes, hold parades and parties, sing and dance, and make offerings to lost loved ones” (2). Our school also took part in the festivities this year, and made many memories and learned so much while doing so.
Fr. Allen, MIC was heavily a part of these celebrations around campus and talked about what happened, “On Friday, October 25th students gathered for a cultural event at which we made an Ofrenda, or Altar of Remembrance, which is now on display in the Chapel.” These ofrendas are traditionally built in private homes and cemeteries, and not meant for worship, rather to welcome spirits back to the realm of the living. They are loaded with significant offerings for the long journey. Fr. Allen tells about how the ofrenda in the school was built, “lead by artists Rebecca Patenaude and Cindy Sturni, her mother, who lives part of the year in Mexico, we fashioned paper marigolds, painted skulls (calaveras) and crosses (calacas), and combined them with other traditional objects such as food for the dead, monarch butterflies, etc.”
Something very special about our community’s ofrenda, in particular, is the fact that we had members of our community submit pictures of their deceased loved ones to honor on the altar. This way, we are all able to honor those who are important to one another, in the way that this holiday was intended. Today, Dia de los Muertos is celebrated Oct 31-Nov 2, but our Ofrenda will remain up for the entire month of November. Fr. Allen also says that “praying for the dead is a special devotion and part of the mission of the Marian Fathers who founded Marianapolis. On Nov 1, 2, and 3 a Mass intention was offered for all the deceased loved ones of the Marianapolis community, both those on our ofrenda and in our hearts.” Please feel free to go to the Chapel at any time to see the ofrenda, or even add an offering or pictures of deceased loved ones to it, and we assure you that they will be respected and prayed for.
History.com Editors. “Day of the Dead (Día De Los Muertos).” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 30 Oct. 2018, https://www.history.com/topics/halloween/day-of-the-dead.
Garrett, Kenneth, and Tino Soriano. “Top 10 Things to Know about the Day of the Dead.” National Geographic, 29 Oct. 2019, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/north-america/mexico/top-ten-day-of-dead-mexico/.