Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos Festivities

Thursday, November 1, 2012
6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Great Hall, Hesburgh Center for International Studies
University of Notre Dame

El Día de los Muertos is a Mexican tradition that honors the dead and celebrates the lives of those who have gone before.

Día de los MuertosThe University of Notre Dame will celebrate this year with a special ofrenda created by Notre Dame students and a lecture by Javier Osorio, a PhD candidate in political science at Notre Dame.

The festivities will also include performances by student groups Coro Primavera de Nuestra Señora, Ballet Folklorico Azul y Oro, and Mariachi ND. The evening will end with breaking of the Bread of the Dead/pan de muerto and hot chocolate.

Tentative Schedule
6:00    "The Day of the Dead in the Context of Mexico's Drug Wars" – Lecture by Javier Osorio
6:30    Music from Coro Primavera de Nuestra Señora
6:45    Student Presentation about the Day of the Dead and the ofrenda
7:00    Ballet Folklorico Azul y Oro
7:15    Reception featuring

Day of the Dead festivities are free and open to the public.

Sponsored by the Mexico Working Group of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the Latin American Studies Program, the Institute for Latino Studies, the Snite Museum of Art, and the Multicultural Student Programs and Services Office.

What is the Day of the Dead?

AppEl Día de los Muertos is a Mexican tradition that honors the dead and celebrates the lives of those who have gone before. Celebrated on November 1 by people in Mexico, parts of Central and South America, and increasingly throughout the US, the Day of the Dead is not a mournful occasion, but a spirited holiday.

Bringing food and music, families visit the graves of their loved ones, cleaning the headstones and decorating them with flowers. Images of skeletons dancing or doing other comical things are common, part of the philosophy that death is not something to be feared, but a natural part of life.

What is an ofrenda?

People celebrate the Day of the Dead in their homes, creating altars called ofrendas that display portraits, favorite foods, and special possessions of their loved ones. Ofrendas are also decorated with candles and marigolds (cempoalxóchitl), whose light and scent are said to attract the souls of the deceased and draw them back for a short time to take part in the pleasures they enjoyed in life.

About this year's ofrenda (altar)

Notre Dame undergraduates designed and constructed this year's ofrenda to remember and honor the innocent victims of the US-Mexico drug trade. Led by members of campus student organizations La Alianza and MEChA, they aim to capture the social tragedy and complex reality of Mexico's drug war—as well as Mexican society's cultural resilience in the face
of violence.

The result is a traditional three-level ofrenda featuring an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, candles, flowers, and food and drink.

It is also a modern ofrenda, including bullet casings to signify pervasive violence; money, for the tragedy's underlying engine; the flags of Mexico and the United States to signify co-responsibility; blood-spattered flowers for innocent bystanders; and toys for innocent victims. Images and news stories represent a cross section of the men, women, and children who have been caught in this cycle of violence.

Javier OsorioAbout the lecture

A confusing mix of myths and facts accompanies the recent escalation of drug violence in Mexico. This talk explores political processes, cultural aspects, and the dynamics of violence associated with the Mexican war on drugs.

About this year’s speaker

Javier Osorio, a PhD student in political science at the University of Notre Dame, is currently in residence at Yale University as a Program on Order, Conflict and Violence predoctoral fellow. A Mexican native, he aims to understand the causes and consequences of large-scale criminal violence—and to find paths for building safer, more peaceful and democratic countries.

In his dissertation, Osorio is analyzing the onset, escalation, and diffusion of drug-related violence in Mexico, with support from the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council–Open Society Foundation, the United States Institute for Peace, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. Before enrolling in graduate school he served as civil society specialist at the World Bank in Mexico and worked for the Federal Electoral Institute and various human rights NGOs.