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Best of the Week 2019-2020: Holy Cross Values


Members of the Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica (Spanish Honor Society) celebrated Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a traditional Mexican holiday, by building an altar to honor those from our St. Edward community who have passed away. This two-day holiday (All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day) is believed to reunite the living and the dead. Dia de los Muertos is rooted in a 3,000-year-old Aztec tradition, honoring the dead with a cyclical view of the universe and perceiving death as a necessary part of life. As part of this Hispanic tradition, ofrendas, or altars, are built and decorated with photos of the departed, their favorite food and drink, yellow marigold flowers, candles, skeletons and mementos to honor their lives. Skulls, the common symbol for this holiday, are also added to ofrendas and are meant to serve as reminders of our own mortality. Traditionally, ofrendas must also display each of the four elements. Students added candles to represent fire, flowers to represent earth and "papel picado" which are intricately cut pieces of colorful tissue paper that mimic traditional Mexican banners, to represent wind. All these offerings echo the love and dedication of those who we honor during Dia de los Muertos. The offerings are also believed to encourage visits from the land of the dead as the departed souls hear our prayers to join in the celebrations.

Set up in the Holy Family Chapel, St. Ed's ofrenda displayed photos of St. Br. André Bessette, C.S.C., Br. James Everett, C.S.C., Jack Kahl '58, David Palisin '64 and Michael George '21. To make this year's ofrenda more interactive, cards were available for students, faculty and staff to write down the names of their loved ones who have passed away to place on the altar so that their memory can be honored in the same way. "We wanted to find a way to invite the community to participate in this tradition so that St. Ed's can honor and remember their loved ones too," says Spanish teacher Mrs. Mariana Martinez. "Having the altar in the Holy Family Chapel made it more accessible for the whole community. Many classes took time to come see the altar and spend time in reflection, but anyone was welcome to come and pray for the people in their own lives who have passed away," says Language Acquisition Department Chair Mrs. Lisa Hardin.

Dia de los Muertos is a celebration of both life and death. Unlike services of mourning and grieving for our loved ones, Dia de los Muertos instead celebrates their lives and welcomes them to come back to Earth to celebrate with us. By honoring the departed members of our St. Edward community with a Dia de los Muertos ofrenda, students provided the community with a place to remember them and to celebrate them through another culture's traditions. "This experience really focuses on our Holy Cross pillar, Relationships. It was so touching to see how much our students care for their family and friends to honor them in this way," says Spanish teacher Mrs. Sherie Quinn. "Our department hopes that our students get more out of just learning a second language. We seek to include cultural opportunities for them so they can have authentic experiences in the classroom and become more globally minded."

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