Life-After Celebrations expressed by different cultures worldwide

Two papier-mache skeletal dolls made by Carlotta Giangualano (Michele Hardy)

Michele Hardy

Six different cultures shared how they celebrate lives of those who have died, each using PowerPoint presentations covering the main points last Monday night. 

The event was hosted by Carmenmara Hernandez-Bravo, chair of the international language department.

According to instructor Connie Kihyet, Hernandez-Bravo wanted to put on the display for her students so they could be exposed to different ways of celebrating life after death..

One of the main topics discussed was the differences in the time spent celebrating.

The Persian culture holds their ceremonies on the last days of the year, whereas Spanish and Latin cultures celebrate during the first week of November. In ancient Rome, they would dedicate a whole 26 calendar days to festivities and tributes.

Something that unifies these various cultures is that they all provide food offerings to the spirits of their ancestors and loved ones. Persians will set up feasts on the rooftops accompanied by little sculptures to guide the spirits to the right houses.

Some of the cultures go to the cemeteries to celebrate. Many Spanish, Latin and Italian people go to the grave sites, clean them off, and then leave candles, sculptures, flowers and water.

Many of the different cultures had a table that showed the different pieces of memorabilia they use during these times of celebration.

Kihyet was asked to set up the table to show off the traditions for Spain. On top of the Spanish flag were a couple papier-mâché skeletal dolls (called catrinas) sitting next to a picture of Micael Merrifield, an instructor who recently died. Kihyet said that the table was actually the result of her students’ creativity.

The catrinas were made by Carlotta Giangualano, a contemporary Mayan artist, who had raffled off some of her dolls and artwork the previous night and then donated two of the dolls to Saddleback.

Gingualano provided some of her paintings to be raffled off at an auction at California State University, Fullerton. All the money made from the auctions went to providing funding for students who have problems affording education.

“I feel that if a child has the desire to continue their education, we should help them,” Gingualano said.
Despite the many colorful displays and interesting guest speakers, not everyone in the crowd was pleased by the event.

Kris Derby, a 32-year-old automotive major, said, “I could get more information from Wikipedia.” He went on to say that the organization of the event seemed to have been rushed and could have been better if they had flushed out the topics being discussed.Along with the presentations, there was food from the Persian restaurant, Hatam, and salsa dancers performing for the crowd at the end of the event.

A display at the table for Spain with a tribute to recently passed Micael Merrifield next to a skeleton doll by Carlotta Giangualano. (Michele Hardy)

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