What is the Day of the Dead?
The perception of death varies from culture to culture: in Russia we take it as something sad and sorrowful, while people in Mexico and many other Latin American countries face death with celebration and respect for deceased family members.
The feast takes place on the 1st and 2nd of November. It is believed that in this period of time the passageway between our world and the spirit world is open so the loved ones who have passed away can come back and visit their relatives.
It’s important not to mix up Halloween and the Day of the Dead – although these two holidays are celebrated almost at the same time, their meanings and backgrounds are absolutely different.
As I have already said, the Day of The Dead is not associated with grief or loss. The streets fill up with dancing, singing and laughing people of all ages; both children and adults wear the “sugar skull makeup”, colourful clothes and flower head wreaths.
To welcome the spirits of the dead, families gather at the cemeteries and decorate the burial sites with marigolds and candles; in every house there is an altar consisting of flowers, candles, photos, personal items, food and drinks.
The most significant and recognizable symbols of the holiday are sugar skulls (calaveras), skeletons (calacas) and La Catrina – a tall female skeleton which represents the Mexican view of afterlife.
Celebration at HSE
The organization process was challenging, but very interesting at the same time. We had to do a research on all the Mexican restaurants in Moscow to find the best one to order traditional food from. Some members of the club were in charge of decorations and photo zone, others were creating the program for the event, and so on. After a few weeks of preparation, we were ready to share the joy and originality of Día de Muertos with other HSE students.
The event took place on Bolshaya Ordynka street (the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs). Members of the club made sure that the decorations of the auditorium resembled the style of the holiday: wherever you look you could see marigolds, candles, skulls and fairy lights.
Even if you were just passing by, you could immerse into the atmosphere of the celebration right away: our make-up artists were creating pieces of art on people’s faces with just a brush and a face paint.
The program included a mini-concert with acoustic versions of popular songs, a history quiz and a lot of dancing – everyone could try something new or learn more about Latin American culture.
Finally, traditional food was the highlight of the evening. We picked Mexican, Argentinian and Spanish cuisine: you could taste empanadas, tacos, churros and guacamole with nachos.
Thanks to our HSE Latin American club, here in Moscow we have a chance to respect and enjoy customs and traditions of Latin America. We put a lot of effort in each event, and we are looking forward to see you next time.