HUG hosts Día de los Muertos festival

When all the excitement from Halloween died down, the Hispanos Unidos de Guilford (HUG) revived the fun by celebrating Day of the Dead, translated to Dia de Los Muertos, on Nov. 2.

“Many people have the misconception that Dia de Los Muertos is another name for how Mexicans celebrate Halloween,” said Berenice Fuentes-Juarez, HUG president. “But this is definitely not true.”

This celebration is held to honor and remember family members, friends and loved ones who have passed away. Oct. 31 is a day of preparation; Nov. 1 is known as Dia de Los Inocentes, which is reserved for infants and children who have passed away, and Nov. 2 is reserved for deceased adults, who are commemorated on that day.

“We decided to have this event to commemorate the importance of the day and share the rich culture and traditions that the Mexican culture has to offer,” said Fuentes-Juarez.

“I’ve wanted to see an event like the one that we had since my freshman year, but there were no efforts being made. Many neighboring colleges celebrate Dia de Los Muertos, so it is important for Guilford to also show representation for the Latinx population here on campus.”

HUG hosted events on all three of the days of importance.

“Each day is significant for this special tradition,” HUG members said in an email interview. “We made sugar skulls from scratch and people had the opportunity to decorate them on Thursday.

“We also watched the movie ‘Coco’ and explained the importance and meaning behind some of the things shown in the film. These activities led up to the big celebration that we had on Nov. 2.”

On Saturday, under a tent and multicolor banners, attendees celebrated with face painting, food and activities. Many stood in line to get a plate of traditional Mexican food.

“There was a variety of traditional homemade Mexican tamales, Salvadorean pupusas, Fruta con chamoy (fruit with a savory candy filling), mini conchas (sweet bread), and pan de Muerto, which is a type of sweet bread that has several designs and is traditionally given out,” HUG members said.

In addition to food, activities on the Quad included decorating sugar skulls,crafting papel picado designs and learning the importance of an ofrenda and various symbols in the papel picado tradition.

“By sharing food, music and doing activities together that remind us of them, we are also bonding and sharing moments with each other,” said Fuentes-Juarez.

An art piece called a tapete de aserrin, designed and created by Fuentes-Juarez and HUG Treasurer Eder Flores, also was showcased during the Nov. 2 celerbration.

“The tapete de aserrin is a sawdust carpet made of several layers of colored sawdust that is used to decorate designs,” said Fuentes-Juarez. “It is typically set out in religious celebrations and during Dia de Los Muertos events.”

Finally, a group of women and teenagers performed a series of traditional dances. Wearing traditional hand-woven dresses and having their faces painted with traditional designs, they also explained the significance of their dances.

Since the event was open to the community, hosts were hopeful that it would bring together both allies of the Latinx community and community members.

“Guilford needs to embrace this Latinx tradition as being in support of the core values of diversity, inclusion, and community,” HUG members said.

“By there being community members participating in this event, it brings the Guilford and Greensboro community together in so many ways.”

For many of the board members, Dia de Los Muertos held a special significance.

“Being Mexican, this is a tradition and celebration that has been very important in my family for many generations,” Fuentes-Juarez said.

“It is a time that we come together to remember family members and friends that have passed and commemorate the legacy that they left. It is a especially important to me because my abuelito passed away on Nov. 2,” she said.

“So celebrating this tradition is really important for me because I’m not only honoring and continuing a family tradition, but also because I’m sharing a significant Mexican tradition,” Fuentes-Juarez added.


Editor’s note: This story originally was published in Volume 106, Issue 5 of The Guilfordian on Nov. 8 2019.