LAHSO honors Day of the Dead


Natasha Speiss/Chronicle

At LAHSO’s Day of the Dead celebration, students converse with each other while making paper flowers and listening to music.

Natasha Speiss

The Latin American Hispanic Student Organization (LAHSO) celebrated the Day of the Dead with a paper flower workshop to honor deceased loved ones and a presentation on the history of the holiday Nov. 4.

The Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday traditionally honored Nov. 1-2, and is considered to be a celebration of life rather than a mourning of death. The holiday combines Aztec rituals for the goddess Mictecacihuatl, the Lady of the Dead, with the Roman-Catholic observance of All Saints Day, according to NPR.

Traditions include visiting graves with gifts for the deceased, eating Mexican sweet bread called “pan de muerto” and making altars with photos, candles, incense and flowers.

LAHSO member Fernanda Herrera ’23 said the prevalence of flowers in Day of the Dead customs inspired the club to celebrate with a flower-themed activity.

“We remembered that flowers are an important part of the celebration because they symbolize the fragility and beauty of life,” Herrera said. “We wanted to do something with [flowers] but we didn’t have time to go get real flowers. That’s when I remembered that I used to make flowers out of tissue paper as a kid for our altar.”

Herrera said she designed her flower at the event with her great-grandmother in mind, as she is one of the people she commemorates on her family’s altar every year.

“I don’t have many memories of her because she passed when I was a child,” Herrera said. “But making her favorite cookies and setting a cup of coffee for her makes me feel like I’m just making her breakfast or afternoon snack. We usually make the favorite foods of the people we put on our altar to make sure they love what we offer. I think that it brings us closer to them.”

Herrera said celebrating the Day of the Dead at school makes her feel closer to her culture.

“​​I wasn’t able to make an altar at home this year because [my family was] really busy with work and school,” Herrera said. “It made me really sad, but just being able to make even a small part of the usual festivities made me feel so much better.”

LAHSO member Jasmine Marron ’22 said they enjoyed coming together with other students of their culture to celebrate.

“As someone who doesn’t celebrate [the Day of the Dead], it was fun to learn more about the traditions of my Mexican culture with others,” Marron said. “Having someone that has something in common with you, such as an experience or culture, can be very comforting. As a minority group of the school and American population, it is vital to have the opportunity to be heard and seen.”

LAHSO Faculty Advisor Celso Cárdenas said events like the Day of the Dead celebration reflect the importance of having accessible affinity groups at school.

“[LAHSO] is a space where one can just be themselves and connect with other people who understand their experiences,” Cárdenas said. “It is special because it makes [school] feel like home. To be able to spend one lunchtime together every cycle where we can share our culture, listen to our music and feel connected to one another, that is necessary for our souls.”

Cárdenas said many people incorrectly view affinity groups in a negative light.

“People sometimes think that [affinity groups] are divisive or exclusive,” Cárdenas said. “The truth is that disenfranchised groups often have to navigate systems where they are the minority, where they are the only one like them in a space. Affinity groups give us a reprieve from that.”