Campus community invited to Día de los Muertos Ceremonia on November 2

Original Artwork by: Lorena Hernandez-Rivera.

For over 30 years, El Centro has hosted the annual Día de los Muertos Ceremonia, a spiritual and cultural celebration that captures the idea of unity between life and death. Día de los Muertos is a synthesis of the indigenous Mesoamerican and the Spanish conquistador traditions. El Día de los Muertos means remembering our antepasados, loved ones and establishing a sense of personal history in traditional ways. Due to Spanish colonization, the rituals related to death and celebrating the ancestors were moved to coincide with the Catholic holidays of All Saints Day (November 1st) and All Souls Day (November 2nd). Día de los Muertos retains various elements carried over from Indigenous celebrations still practiced today worldwide.

As we prepare for this year’s ceremony, we recognize the pain, loss, and grief caused by violence around the world. The community altar, or ofrenda, is a sacred space that represents a remembrance of the departed, a reminder that life is eternal and that the presence of our loved ones is everlasting. The ofrenda speaks of affection and praise toward the deceased and are an expression of love towards life. We preserve this ceremony as a space to reflect and heal. 

We ask that everyone respect the honoring of individuals lost and come together as we welcome back their spirits through ceremony, dance, song, and offerings. We also recognize that through all cultures and traditions we express ourselves differently, yet at this time we gather as members of humanity to support one another, to share our emotions of joy and sadness, and to embrace our humility as a community of this campus.

Día de los Muertos at UC Santa Cruz is a collaborative community effort organized by El Centro and the Quarry Amphitheater, and a committee of organizations, this year the planning committee includes the College Nine and John R. Lewis College CoCurricular Programs Office ("The CoCo"), Stevenson College, Cowell College, Lionel Cantu Queer Center, Educational Opportunity Programs, Hermanos de UCSC, Hermanas Unidas de UCSC, and Kappa Zeta. 

We strive to incorporate all aspects of Día de los Muertos traditions into two events that portray the cultural significance of these traditions. Join us for “Calaveras y Comunidad" on Thursday, October 26, 2023 from 4-7 p.m. at the Cowell Courtyard to create arts and crafts such as sugar skulls, alebrijes, and flower crowns. 

These traditions will culminate in our annual Día de los Muertos Ceremonia on November 2, an evening-long event filled with danza and prayer, food, music, activities, and the creation of a community altar. Doors open at 5 p.m.. Event runs 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Admission is free. RSVP:

This event is sponsored by: El Centro, the Quarry Amphitheater, College Nine and John R. Lewis College CoCurricular Programs Office ("The CoCo"), Dean of Students Office, Merrill College, Stevenson College, Lionel Cantu Queer Center, Cowell Coffee Shop, Educational Opportunity Programs, Kenneth S. Norris Center, Student Diversity and Inclusion Program, Kappa Zeta, Hermanos de UCSC, and Hermanas Unidas de UCSC. 

This year's Día de los Muertos original artwork by: Lorena Hernandez-Rivera. Lorena uses her art skills to visualize and express her Mexican heritage. She is a first-generation UCSC graduate with honors in Latin American studies combined with Sociology and a minor in Education. Lorena created artwork for Grupo Folklorico Los Mejicas, the Dolores Huerta Research Center for the Americas, TWANAS, and El Centro during her time at UCSC. Check out her artwork on Instagram at @Art_ByLHR


Picture of the ofrenda from the 2022 Día de los Muertos Ceremonia