Ancestors honored on Day of the Dead

Published 9:51 am Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Melodee Morem, International Student Advisor at Riverland, serves up traditional Mexican foods for Tricia Whalen as part of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Tuesday morning. - Trey Mewes/

Halloween has come and gone, but area families are still remembering the dead.

That’s what Riverland Community College students are sharing with others Tuesday and Wednesday. Riverland students will experience El Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead.

“We want to share our culture with everybody,” said Naye Lazaro, a Riverland PSEO student from Northfield. “This is the way we celebrate.”

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Lazaro celebrates El Dia de los Muertos with her family each year by remembering her mother who died when she was 7 years old. Each family celebrates in a different way, but there are a few traditions that remain the same. Every family sets up an altar of sorts, with lit candles and some of the deceased’s favorite foods. Families will tell stories and recite poems about their loved ones, and some families celebrate El Dia on Nov. 1 and 2 — one day for children and the next for adults.

“This way we can celebrate and honor our ancestors,” said Roberto Torres-Garate.

Torres-Garate celebrates his grandparents during El Dia, listening to his uncles’ stories about them and how they lived.

Lazaro and Torres-Garate were among the students who shared El Dia with people passing through Riverland Tuesday morning, handing out tamales, Pan de Muertos (bread of the dead) and other sweets.

“It’s cool,” said Anna Park, Riverland student. “They get attention with the food. It’s cool the school allows people to have that opportunity.”