By Megan Duncan, Reporter, and Haley Edmondson, News Producer
MOUNT BERRY, Ga. – Members of the Orgullo club at Berry gathered in Evans Hall on Oct. 23 to build an ofrenda (altar) in preparation for Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), celebrated annually Oct. 31 – Nov. 2.
The tradition began in Mexico several thousand years ago and it is a time for families and friends to gather together to remember and pray for their departed loved ones. Preparations include building an altar in the family’s home with candles, flowers, photos of the departed as well as their favorite foods. Learn more about common elements of the traditional ofrenda.
Food is set out as part of the belief that the departed will return and enjoy it as they did when they were alive. Photos are placed around the altar to commemorate the loved ones who have passed, according to Maria Ramirez, president of Orgullo.
“It is to remember the loved ones, but it also helps with family unity, so it’s something that the entire family does in order to remember the loved ones,” Ramirez said.
The Day of the Dead is known for its lively, meaningful colors: yellow represents the sun and unity; white symbolizes the hope, purity and spirit of the people; red represents the blood of life; purple is for mourning, grief and suffering that the loved ones went through. Face painting is also a common part of celebration, that shows the important colors.
Marigolds and their petals are spread around the altar. The yellow-orange flowers act as a guide for loved ones to follow back from the land of the dead in order to return and enjoy the celebration.
Berry students build the altar annually to partake in and share the tradition with the Berry community.
“Anyone here on campus – faculty, staff, students – that want to be part of it and include a picture of their loved ones can bring that onto the altar,” Ramirez said.