Student Groups, Peabody Museum Celebrate Día de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos
The Peabody Museum is hosting a Dia de los Muertes (Day of the Dead) exhibition at its 'Encounters with the Americas' gallery.
Amid the frightening festivities of this past Halloweekend, one student organization and a Harvard museum commemorated a different holiday—Día de los Muertos—in vibrant style.

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday that honors those who have passed away. Spanning Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, the holiday recognizes death as a natural part of life and celebrates the deceased with food, drinks, and activities they once enjoyed.

Harvard-Radcliffe RAZA, an organization that represents and celebrates Mexican culture, gathered in Leverett House’s Library Theatre on Thursday to remember loved ones who had passed and to partake in traditional festivities.

RAZA president Bianca I. Rodriguez ’20 described the event as an occasion for people of all backgrounds to honor the memories of those they have lost.

According to Rodriguez, students brought pictures of their loved ones, chatted amongst themselves, and sampled Day of the Dead staples such as pan de muerto, a circular bread specifically eaten for Día de los Muertos and symbolic of the circle of life.

“We decorated the area, we made an altar,” Rodriguez said. “If anyone was comfortable, we would talk about the people they put on the altar and remember a memory they had.”

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology hosted a family event on Saturday to celebrate the holiday.

Colorful paper garlands, known as papel picado, hung from the banisters as guests climbed to a massive altar on the third floor dedicated to the victims of a Mexico City earthquake in September, which killed over 200 people.

Mariachi Veritas, a Harvard mariachi group, performed at the event while guests drank Mexican hot chocolate, decorated sugar skulls, and crafted paper marigolds.

Ventura Fabian, a woodcarver from Oaxaca, Mexico, presented a live demonstration of his craft for the event’s guests. Fabian has been practicing the art of traditional woodcarving in his village for over fifty years.

A crowd gathered around Fabian’s son, Norberto Fabian, who painted his father’s woodcarvings and handed his brushes to children who added their own strokes to the woodcarvings.

Norberto Fabian said in Spanish that the most crucial aspect of his participation in this Día de los Muertos event was the opportunity to educate others about his family’s art, culture, and way of life.

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