COLORADO SPRINGS — Dia de los Muertos or "Day of the Dead" began at midnight, and leading up to the holiday, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College partnered with local schools and organizations to teach students about the meaning behind the day.
Over the past month, students from eight local schools and organizations spent time learning about Dia de Los Muertos. They also created ofrendas, which is an alter to honor loved ones who've passed away. The ofrendas now line the halls of the FAC.
Audriana Alvarado is a teacher at Harrison High School, and this year she taught about 100 students the meaning behind the holiday.
"There's a lot of confusion that Dia de Los Muertos is a Mexican Halloween, but that's completely false. Dia de Los Muertos is a celebration of life," said Alvarado. "For Dia de los Muertos, these aren't Halloween costumes, these are cultural representations of our loved ones who've passed."
The tradition originated in Mexico, but is now celebrated through Latin America and parts of the United States. It's a two-day celebration of life and a chance to honor loved ones who've passed.
Alvarado also helped students create an ofrenda.
"There's different elements that represent each of the countries and different regions that our students are from and we were able to create an ofrenda, hand-made," said Alvarado.
Omar Campos is a junior at Palmer High School who learned about Dia de los Muertos with his classmates.
"I learned it's more so of a celebration, instead of mourning relatives who've died, it's a celebration for your lost loved ones. The whole point is to celebrate them and keep their spirit alive and to honor them," said Campos.
Campos also led the creation of an ofrenda that's on display. The theme behind it, is "inclusion."
"It's very emotional to see how people celebrate their loved ones and how they get to honor them with specific art," said Campos. "We had everybody from our school put in different colors for a person and a loved one they recently lost to represent and celebrate them."
Omar's classmates helped him pick out the colors for the ofrenda, and he said while creating it and learning about the holiday, they also learned about each others cultural differences and how they cope with loss.
"It was very meaningful because we all got to get together, and talk, it was a lot of connection between each other to learn about each others past," said Campos. "It was eye opening to see the simple artwork and how it can bring people together to make more connections."
Alie Ehrensaft is the museum education manager at FAC. She worked closely with the local schools to provide information about the holiday and give them understanding. She says, "Hopefully that process is encouraging students to talk about the various cultural differences and celebrations that we have in our own lives, and teach students how we experience those in different ways... I believe that building connection and shared experiences is one of the best ways we can foster a growing sense of community."
On Tuesday, November 2, a Dia de Los Muertos celebration will be happening at the Fine Arts Center from 5-7 p.m. There will be performances of Mexican folk music and ballet folkorico, art making demonstrations and food. Students will be able to talk about the ofrendas they've created. The community is also welcome to create an ofrenda outside of the center, and they're invited to bring whatever items they'd like to honor relatives who've passed.