SRJC Intercultural Center celebrates el Día de los Muertos


Bryan Fructuoso

A group of SRJC students and members of the community showcase their traditional attire, some even dress as catrinas, an elegantly dressed skeleton.

Michael Combs and Bryan Fructuoso

The Santa Rosa Junior College Intercultural Center hosted a celebration of el Dia de los Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead, with traditional bread, altars placed around campus and dancers from Danza Azteca Xantotl on Oct. 19 at the Bertolini Quad. 

Contrary to white-americans belief, the Day of the Dead, or el Día de los Muertos, is not the Mexican version of Halloween. The indigenous people of Mexico, the Nahuas, began the tradition at least 3,000 years ago to honor the souls of the dead. 

Celebrated over the first two days of November, families build altars to honor their departed loved ones with their favorite food and drink, flor de cempasúchil (Mexican marigolds), pan de muerto (dead man’s bread), sugar skulls and photographs. 

Malena Hernández, coordinator of the SRJC Student Success Program at the Intercultural Center, said they used to celebrate the Day of the Dead at the SRJC museum. To follow a more traditional practice, students placed altars around the nearby community 

“We did this so students who follow these traditions could see their culture reflected on campus, and to expose other students to cultures that may not be a part of their own,” Hernández said. 

Rafael Vasquez, a Humanities instructor said the Day of the Dead event is about maintaining cultural heritage for a community that may not be able to travel back home because they are undocumented or lost family due to COVID-19. They placed pictures of family members at the altars so they could celebrate with them in spirit. 

Manny Morales, SRJC alumni and part of MEChA De SRJC, said celebrating the Day of the Dead on campus is important because it celebrates the tradition of students who may have not traditionally seen college as a pathway to success for them. 

Visit altars put up by SRJC students and faculty throughout the second floor of Doyle Library, the Intercultural Center, the Multicultural Museum, the Bertolini student center and Emeritus Hall. Altars will be on display through Nov. 3.