Indiana State University Newsroom

ISU to honor Hispanic celebration - "The Day of the Dead" - in month of activities

October 7, 2009

Indiana State University will host a series of events throughout the next month that coincide with the Hispanic tradition of Día de los Muertos or the "Day of the Dead."

Hispanics recognize the day, traditionally Nov. 2 in most regions of Mexico, as a time when the souls of the departed visit the living. The dead are honored by loved ones who prepare the favorite foods and beverages of the deceased, erect altars in their memory and visit their grave sites. Celebrations can take a humorous tone as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.

Students will have opportunities to learn about the traditions and customs surrounding death and Día de los Muertos during these activities:

• On Oct. 12 at 5:40 p.m. in Holmstedt Hall 103, Gerardo Cummings will use Mexican horror movies "La Llorona," "Sobrenatural," "El libro de piedra" and "Cronos" to point to cultural attitudes about death. "Cronos," a 1993 film by Guillermo del Toro, recycles the old vampire myth and presents a number of examples as to why death should be a time to celebrate and draw the family closer.

• On Oct. 22 at 6 p.m. in Holmstedt Hall 103, Cummings will show the Mexican horror film "KM 31" and lead a discussion about the work that chronicles the myth of La Llorona. Translated "the weeping woman," La Llorona is said to have drowned her children for interfering with her love life. She spends her afterlife regretting that horrendous deed.

• On Oct. 28 at 6 p.m. in room 028 of Cunningham Memorial Library, graduate students Jennifer Hilfer and Malte Drewes, Francois Mulot, Layla Haidar and Patricia Eugenia Saylor from the department of languages, literatures and linguistics will discuss the attitudes about death in the German, French, Bahraini, and Méxican cultures. Students will detail cultural traditions associated with death and discuss the idiosyncrasies of each.

• On Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. in Holmstedt Hall 103, Chris Baumunk, a graduate teaching assistant in the department of languages, literatures and linguistics, will moderate a discussion about the film "The Orphanage." Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona and filmed in Spain, the film centers upon ghosts and their desire to remain in the lives of their loved ones.

Additionally throughout the month of November, La Catrina - a skeleton made up like a bourgeoisie version of a Mexican woman from the 1800s - will be on display in the basement of Cunningham Memorial Library. The display will also include altars to honor Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, two of the famous Mexican artists of the 20th century.

Contact: Gerardo T. Cummings, assistant professor of Spanish, Indiana State University, at 812-237-2359 or

Writer: Rachel Wedding McClelland, assistant director of media relations, Indiana State University at 812-237-3790 or