Día de los Muertos Getting Out Of Hand
University officials, parents, and community members are once again objecting to Wesleyan’s raucous Día de los Muertos celebrations.
“It’s the same thing every fall,” complained Brian Roberts, a resident of Fountain Avenue. “They make candy skulls, they offer marigolds to the spirits of their ancestors, those damn shrines pop up everywhere. A big group gathered outside my house, talking and praying. I almost called the police.” With participation unusually high this year, the community had begun to question the university’s traditional practice of turning a blind eye to the celebrations.
El Día, which occurs every year on the second of November, has always been popular among young people because
of its affecting synthesis of Christian and indigenous spirituality.
“They go fucking nuts,” said Haggis Bert, a Wesleyan Public Safety officer. “We have to triple Indian Hill patrols so they don’t leave brooms and weird little cakes everywhere.” The cakes are pan de muerto, a sweet egg bread that traditionally accompanies El Día festivities.
Cakes or no cakes, the holiday has grown considerably in recent years, perhaps fueled by ‘goth’ culture or the popularity of large parties. “Yeah, we had a Muertos party,” said Brian Goldstein ’12, a Psi Upsilon brother. “People dress up in costumes as calaveras [skeletons] and we’re all like, who makes the best tamales? It’s awesome. We actually had a Día de los Angelitos party the night before to amp things up a bit,” he said, adding, “That got so out of hand.” According to some reports, Psi Upsilon honored at least five hundred dead people by the end of the evening.
“Traditions really vary,” said Allie Doherty ’14. “Adults are always like, ‘this is so out of control, look at all this skull
worship,’ but that’s only a few people acting stupid and ruining it for everyone.”
Public Safety noted that the hundreds of candles, tequila bottles, and ofrendas left on High Street were not just the work
of a few miscreants.
Doherty argued that the tequila was ceremonial in nature. “Please,” she said, “El Día isn’t about getting drunk. We’re
just trying to do right by our ancestors.”
Middletown resident Gus Sherman contends that El Día has become a force for evil. “When I was a kid we had a little Día de
los Muertos get-together,” he said. “Nothing big, mind you. Now these students travel in packs, carousing, telling anecdotes about the deceased. It’s despicable.”