Sophia Herzberg, Psychology, BMC ’24

This photo, taken by Professor Montes, depicts the beautiful altar in the church on our trip into South Philadelphia. In class, we watched a video about The Day of The Dead and learned that the day originated from the Mayans before it was transformed through the influence of Catholicism by Spanish colonialism, merging Aztec gods and goddesses with the higher beings from Spanish Catholicism. The significance of the altar is to create a space where the dead can visit and connect with the people who come to it.

I chose the photograph of the altar as a means of expressing a personal admiration that I have for the sentiments of The Day of a The Dead. The colorful decorations and beautiful
symbols remind us that death is a natural process of life which should be celebrated and not feared, and when you are reminded of death you celebrate life harder.

In our Mexican-American sociology class we have learned about how Mexican-Americans will re-create traditions in the United States for the purpose of feeling more connected with Mexico in a foreign place. The celebration of The Day of The Dead in South Philly is an example of this. Unfortunately, we have also learned that death is something that is especially relevant to Mexican-Immigration into the United States. Ever since the Mexican-American border has experienced a rise in militarization with the establishment of detention centers and border wall construction as an effort to promote deterrence, as a consequence there has been an increase of deaths at the border. The Day of The Dead celebration makes the festivities of the holiday extra meaningful because of this fact. Furthermore, the fact that Mexican-Immigrants are celebrating a holiday in the United States, a country that doesn’t want them there, makes the celebration of The Day of The Dead a powerful symbol of resistance.