Traditions connected to Day of the Dead include family members building private altars called ofrendas that honor the deceased. The ofrendas are decorated using sugar skulls, marigolds and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed. The family members visit the graves with these as gifts and leave possessions of the deceased.
Although OU hosts its Dia de los Muertos on Oct. 31, the actual Day of the Dead is celebrated throughout Mexico and other countries on Nov. 1 and 2. On the first night, the souls of the children rise from the grave, and on the second, the souls of the adults return.
OU’s Day of the Dead is geared toward college students and children, with free admission, face painting, food vendors, a ferris wheel and even llamas in costume (llamas are a symbolic animal in many Hispanic cultures). The group Yumare will perform a folkloric dance, and local bands Tequila Azul and Clips and Hips will perform.
“Just looking at it, seeing people dressed up and having their faces painted, naturally you get an audience and people come in,” Garcia said. And they might not remember what the Day of the Dead is but at least they know that they had a good time and they come back next year.”