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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Paper tombstones hung from the walls of La Casita on Thursday, but it wasn’t because of Halloween.

UF’s Institute of Hispanic/Latino Cultures and the Mexican American Student Association hosted a free Dia de Los Muertos celebration at the institute’s office Thursday afternoon.

Translated as Day of the Dead, the celebration focused on remembering friends and family members who have died, said event director Eric Castillo.

The holiday is mainly celebrated in Mexico.

“It’s supposed to be a day of joy,” the 30-year-old said.

About 80 people placed electronic candles at a rosemary-adorned altar, wrote notes for the deceased and painted each other’s faces with calavera designs, which are artistic representations of skulls.

It was the first time the event had been held since 2007.

Hilario Cabrera, a 20-year-old psychology and political science junior, enjoyed a cup of arroz con leche among a group of people eating Mexican food. He said the sweet, creamy rice pudding was his favorite dessert.

Cabrera went to the event to pay respect to his grandmother, who recently passed away.

He said he thought the event was a good way to raise the institute’s presence in the community.

“It should be repeated every single year, so people know Latino culture is on campus, and it’s embraced more,” he said.

Castillo said the event offered a quick Mexican immersion experience for students.

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“We educate people about cultures outside of UF,” he said. “I think that’s important.”

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at mdavidson@alligator.org.

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