MATTOON, Ill. (WCIA) — Halloween is over, but another holiday celebrated in Mexican culture began on Wednesday. One Central Illinois college hosted an event to honor the tradition for the first time.
Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, typically starts on Nov. 1 and ends on Nov. 2. It is a time where people honor loved ones who have passed away. Halloween and Day of the Dead are two different holidays with two completely different meanings.
Photos are one of the many things placed on ofrendas, or homemade altars, honoring ancestors who have passed on.
This is the first time Lake Land College in Mattoon is hosting an event observing the holiday, and organizers said they felt pride.
“It’s been a really, really neat experience. We’ve put a lot of time and research into making sure that we’re accurate and culturally aware with all of the information that we use,” said Mercury Bowen, Coordinator for Diversity and Equity. “And consulting with the students who celebrate this on a regular basis.”
The holiday includes all types of creations — like atole, which is made out of rice, cinnamon, condensed milk and regular milk. Once it’s mixed together, it is cooled and set out on the altar for loved ones.
“It’s for our family. That way they can come to drink the atole, because usually they drink in the mornings, the atole when they are with us,” explained Lake Land student Elena Alvarado.
Students like Alvarado said they are honored to be sharing their culture with the campus community.
“We love our families. Whenever things, they pass away, we forget. No. We remember them every year,” Alvarado said.
She said they plan to hold next year’s event in a bigger space with more activities available.