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A spirit that is not afraid

How Auburn students are celebrating Día de Los Muertos

Drawing of two trees decorated with sugar skulls and carnations with toilet paper through the branches showing how Auburn is celebrating Dia de los Muertos.
Drawing of two trees decorated with sugar skulls and carnations with toilet paper through the branches showing how Auburn is celebrating Dia de los Muertos.

A traditional Mexican holiday originating over 3,000 years ago, Día de Los Muertos is a cultural tradition where families set aside time to honor and remember their loved ones, according to This celebration is one that many Latino families acknowledge every year to commemorate those who have passed.

However, some Auburn students shared they were not able to be as involved in the sentimental tradition until Auburn University provided that opportunity for them.

Aldair Carrillo is a senior in electrical engineering and vice president of domestic affairs for the Latinx Student Alliance. He shared that his family observed what the holiday was a little before coming to college but was not committed to fully celebrating it each year as a set holiday.

“Being here at Auburn, I’m glad that I get to participate more and be more committed to actually doing it,” Carrillo said.

Gabby Campos is an Auburn junior in pre-nursing and serves as vice president of communications for LSA.

“We [her family] have always gone to Day of the Dead events, but last year specifically was where I really got to be hands-on with it and learn a little more about what it means to me. To be able to relate to it personally was really awesome,” Campos said.

In order to allow students the space to celebrate Día de Los Muertos or Day of the Dead, the Latinx Student Alliance is partnering with Auburn’s University Program Council for the second year to host a Día de Los Muertos event. On the night after Halloween, Nov. 1, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Cater Lawn will host several traditional activities.

Campos shared that Nov. 1 is traditionally the day that Mexico and several other Latin communities celebrate Day of the Dead. She explained that one way this is done is by having an “ofrenda,” which is an offering placed on a table for the one that has passed. It usually includes pictures, marigold flowers, decorative sugar skulls as well as the loved one’s favorite foods and drinks. 

The practice of observing the ofrenda is in line with the belief that whenever their souls temporarily return on Day of the Dead, they will be able to take those things back with them into the afterlife.

Campos shared the details of LSA and UPC’s event. There will be an arts and crafts table, a skull cookie decorating table, typical baked goods called “conchas,” a hot chocolate bar and a Las Latinas taco food truck.

There will also be a makeshift ofrenda at the event where students of the Latinx Student Alliance will have pictures of their loved ones. Those who attend the event are more than welcome to bring pictures of their loved ones to add to the ofrenda in order to commemorate them.

Campos shared that her favorite part of the event last year, and making a return this year, is the game called “La Loteria.” 

“When my grandfather was alive, we used to play that game a lot with him, and just being able to play that game reminds me of him, and it brings me a lot of joy that I get to celebrate him in that manner,” Campos said.

Maggie Jones is a sophomore in hospitality with a focus in event management, and she is UPC’s Director of Campus Traditions. She was a member of UPC last year, but this is her first year as director.

Jones shared UPC’s point of view in being able to help LSA’s vision come to life by providing funding and helping organize the event.

She explained how they set the initial plans for the event, including the funding; then, they met with the Latinx Student Alliance to see what aspects of Día de Los Muertos were important to them to be included. 

“They’re going to be doing everything for the loteria…as well as they’ll be setting up the ofrenda. We mainly do the funding as well as a lot of the planning and logistics of it,” Jones said.

Carrillo and Campos both shared that they have enjoyed partnering with UPC for the second year and are so thankful for how they have helped finance and caused their ideas to come to life.

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Carrillo said that the Latinx Student Alliance formed last year as students of the Latino community decided they wanted a space where they could join together, relate and share their culture with others.

“We wanted to create an organization that allowed Latino students to congregate and simultaneously promote a safe space for us, as well as spread culture of Latin American countries,” Carrillo said.

Similarly, Campos talked about the organization’s significance and the importance of promoting the idea of learning, growing and building community among this culture of people.

“LSA’s goal is to bring the Hispanic community in addition to anyone who wants to learn about the Latin community together to be able to learn about it and attend activities and events that are hosted by LSA members to promote diversity and equity and inclusion within the Hispanic community,” Campos said.

Campos wants everyone to experience LSA and UPC’s Día de Los Muertos event for themselves on Wednesday night.

“Not only does it offer you a firsthand glimpse of the celebrations that have been going on for years in Mexico, but it allows you to interact with other students who are in the LSA community and others who want to be a part of learning about Day of the Dead and learning how “conchas” and certain foods relate to this great community,” Campos said.

Carrillo explained that the people and the environment are very engaging and make a point to be very inviting to everyone, not just those of Hispanic origin.

“Even if you yourself are not Mexican or observe Day of the Dead, it is a very fun thing to observe, and I personally enjoy seeing people, regardless of background, participating because it’s a fun thing to both learn and do,” Carrillo said.  

Regardless of ethnicity or any lack of knowledge about Day of the Dead festivities, LSA and UPC want everyone to join together for this event and create a space of learning, culture and fun among the Auburn Family.

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