Day of the Dead:
A Celebration of Life
Tania Hernadez Cervantes & Manuel Romero Mier
On November 1st and 2nd, a special altar called an ofrenda is made to celebrate the Dia de
Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). The altar has at least three tiers, and is covered with pictures
of saints, personal items belonging to dead loved ones, and pictures of cavorting skeletons
(calaveras). Marigolds, water, salt, bread, and a candle for each of the dead with one extra so
no one is left out are also placed on the ofrenda. In their talk, Tania Hernandez and Manuel
Romero show the origins of the Mexican celebration of the dead. Drawing on historical
evidence they demonstrate that ancient societies across the world had parallel rituals,
traditions and festivities to remember the dead as the aborigines of Mexico did. This
tradition has evolved in Mexico, becoming an eclectic festivity that gathers up pre-Hispanic,
Catholic and modern worldviews. The talk will expose the cultural components of the
celebration and its influence on literature and pop culture beyond Mexico’s frontiers.
Tania Hernandez Cervantes is a researcher specializing in ecology and in topics related
to sustainable agriculture. She holds an MA from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de
México and is now working on a PhD in environmental studies at York University.
Manuel Romero Mier is a Mexican writer of stories and essays, who studied physics at
the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. His stories, "El Jardín de las Delicias"
and "El Niño que quería Caminar" are both winners of literary contests.
Monday, November 2, 2009
4:00- 6:00 pm
Junior Common Room, 111 Stong College
Piñata festivities, a musical performance by Mery Perez and Julia Campisi singing Mexican
and Latin American songs with guitar accompaniment, and an exhibition of Catrina, images
by Jose Guadalupe Posada, will follow the lecture.
Everyone is welcome. Light refreshments will be served.