On Halloween night, aside from half-heartedly dressing up as a cat and eating too much chocolate, I got to experience a unique tradition from another culture. OU’s Hispanic American Student Association organized this year’s Day of the Dead celebration. Before the event, I interviewed a few HASA members who were coordinating the celebration for an article I wrote for The Oklahoma Daily. I spoke to Mayra Garcia, Miss Hispanic OU; Daniel Rangel, who was in charge of music and live entertainment; and Daisy Ramirez, HASA’s Day of the Dead chair.
So, going into the event, I knew quite a bit about what it was being held for–Day of the Dead celebrates the lives of loved ones who have died. It’s not a sad occasion, though. It’s generally a happy time, if a little solemn. Families create altars for their deceased loved ones complete with flowers, photos and food. At OU’s Day of the Dead event, there was an altar competition for those who wanted to honor and remember family members who had died. Still, most of the event was lighthearted and fun. HASA organized live music and dancers, and there was a huge Ferris wheel for students to ride. I truly enjoyed my time at the event as well as talking to HASA members about the event and what Day of the Dead meant to them. I think it’s interesting, too, how Hispanic culture treats the concept of death differently than American culture does. Hispanic culture has a holiday celebrating and remembering the death of loved ones–they’re not happy that their loved ones have died, but they are able to celebrate their lives. American culture doesn’t really have such a holiday: for Americans, the death of a loved one seems like a wholly sad experience. I’m not sure which way to handle death that I prefer, but I do think it’s interesting to see the difference between the two cultures.
All in all, I was happy to learn about Day of the Dead through research for my article and by attending the event. I would love to attend more of HASA’s events in the future.