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Westminster students celebrate Día de los Muertos

Yovie Saiz Rodriguez, program coordinator for Raíces Unidas and junior psychology major, leaves an offering to honor family members during Día de los Muertos in the Student Diversity and Inclusion Center Nov. 2. Saiz Rodriguez said she uses the holiday as a way to make her feel like she’s honoring her people. Photo courtesy of Channing Gibbs.

Westminster College students honored family, friends and loved ones during Día de los Muertos in the Bassis Student Center Nov. 2.

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a two-day holiday celebrated in parts of Central and Latin America. Those celebrating Día de los Muertos make ofrendas, or altars, and leave offerings, such as flowers, food and drinks for loved ones who have died, according to Valeria Sandoval, junior sociology and gender studies major.

“I grew up always celebrating our loved ones who have passed, so this is a nice celebration where we get to have food and drinks out for them,” Sandoval said. “It’s kind of like the celebration from the movie ‘Coco’ and it’s just such a cute celebration that we all love.”

This year, Sandoval honored her puppy Diesel, who died two years ago.

“We’re celebrating [Diesel], having food out for him and honoring the fact that we miss him and want to see him again,” Sandoval said.

Raíces Unidas, a student-run program, hosted the Día de los Muertos celebration in the Student Diversity and Inclusion Center. Raíces Unidas provides a judgement-free and supporting space where Westminster’s Latinx, Chicanx and Hispanic communities can talk about their identity, according to the Student Diversity and Inclusion Center web page.

Valeria Sandoval, junior sociology and gender studies major, and Yovie Saiz Rodriguez, program coordinator for Raíces Unidas and junior psychology major, observe a community ofrenda, or alter, for Día de los Muertos in the Student Diversity and Inclusion Center Nov. 2. Saiz Rodriguez, who hosted the event, said she wanted to invite anyone who made ofrendas to have a place to be with their community.Photo courtesy of Channing Gibbs.

Yovie Saiz Rodriguez, program coordinator for Raíces Unidas and junior psychology major, said she wanted to provide a way for Westminster community members to celebrate Día de los Muertos.

“Some of us that live on campus or don’t have family here in Utah […] don’t have a way to make a community ofrenda,” Saiz Rodriguez said. “This is my way of inviting anyone on campus who does make an ofrenda to come in and be with their community.”

Cleo Walker, a junior custom major, said she enjoys celebrating Día de los Muertos. Walker said she uses the holiday to honor her grandmother and other family members.

“I like that [Día de los Muertos] is a celebration,” Walker said. “It seems like all of my family was more celebration-y people, so it feels very true to home.”

Evelyn Chautla, a sophomore public health major, also said she loves the culture surrounding Día de los Muertos. Chautla said her family doesn’t celebrate the holiday, but she grew up around it and goes to support her friends.

“I think it’s a time to come together and remember your loved ones,” Chautla said. “It’s a beautiful time. Instead of getting sad, it’s a time to feel loved and to feel connected.”

Tamales are served during Día de los Muertos in the Student Diversity and Inclusion Center Tuesday, Nov. 2. Those celebrating the holiday leave offerings, such as flowers, food and drinks for loved ones who have died, according to Valeria Sandoval, junior sociology and gender studies major.Photo courtesy of Channing Gibbs.

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Channing Gibbs is a senior communication major at Westminster College. Channing loves learning about new countries and cultures, and has dreams to live abroad after graduation. In his free time, you can find him hanging out with friends, playing piano and binging K-dramas.

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