November 9th, 2022
On November 2nd, 2022, Clermont English, Language, and Fine Arts Professor, and Editor of the East Fork Journal, Dr. Stephanie Alcantar, held a celebration in honor of the Mexican holiday, The Day of The Dead, otherwise known as Día De Los Muertos. The event is part of Alcantar’s Spanish Palooza. The event was held at the UC Clermont Library at 11:00am. All students, staff, and faculty were welcome to join in the festivities. Dr. Stephanie Alcantara’s Spanish class had the privilege of being a part of the event. They were joined by many other faculty, staff and students.
This is the second year that Alcantar has hosted Spanish Polooza and the first in many years to feature an altar in honor of The Day of the Dead. The altar, or “Ofrenda,” is displayed in front of the windows in the center of the Clermont Library and will remain at that location for the month of November. The Ofrenda contains layers – an essential feature of altars – and it is creatively decorated with orange marigold flowers, an important symbol in the Day of The Dead. Along with other decorations, it also contains sugar skulls, pink, orange, and blue paper crafts called “papel picado.”
Before students would have the opportunity to celebrate this holiday themselves, Dr. Alcantar shared a PowerPoint presentation that introduced ten interesting facts about the Day of The Dead. The presentation was fun and interactive. It included, but was not limited to, an explanation of altars being a Mexican tradition that honors relatives who have passed away, and pictures of marigold flowers. It also included a brief video that taught students how to make papel picados. One highlight included a bit of trivia that the Día De Los Muertos parade in Mexico City was actually inspired by the James Bond film, “Spectre.”
After the presentation, Alcantar handed out candles for everyone to light and place on the altar to honor those who have passed on. Students were offered traditional sweet bread called “pan de muertos.” They also had the opportunity to make their own papel picados and enter a contest for a chance to win a Day of The Dead T-shirt. Dr. Alcantar then asked students notable questions related to her presentation and rewarded correct answers with Day of The Dead keychains.
Reagan Eschbach, a CCP student also in Professor Alcantar’s class and intended computer science major, appreciated the welcoming atmosphere and looks forward to future events where students can have fun and socialize. “I liked that she mentioned that she didn’t put a picture on the altar because she wanted everyone to be a part of it. So, when I walked in, I got a candle and I felt instantly welcomed. I would like to see events like this in the future. It’s fun.”
Kelly Brooke, a freshman and exploratory major, had similar sentiments. “I liked how people came together whether they were a part of a Spanish class or they’re ethnically from Mexico. They just all came together to celebrate this one holiday. I would love to see more events like this because it’s a chance to learn something out of the everyday norm that people can be used to.”
Dr. Alcantar noted that, while it took a lot of time to organize the event, the appreciation from her students made it worth it. “Planning this year’s Spanish Palooza, collecting all the artifacts that are displayed on the altar, as well as the setup, took a lot of time and planning. However, at the end of the event on November 2nd, multiple students came to me to express their appreciation by telling me how meaningful the event was for them, and that makes me feel that the time and effort putting this event/altar together were worth it.”
“This event was significant for a couple of reasons.” Alcantar continued. “One is that students were involved in the whole process, from setting up the altar to learning about the history of the celebration, eating the traditional pan de muerto, and crafting traditional paper crafts that adorn the altar. It was very significant to me the way students, faculty, staff, and parents embraced the celebration. I am certain that events like the Spanish Palooza contribute to fostering our campus community.”