Oasis brings festive celebration of Dia de los Muertos to SLU

Lively event brings together students and faculty to celebrate the lives of lost loved ones
Mariah Slaughter
Mariah Slaughter

To celebrate Dia de los Muertos with the Saint Louis University community, the club Oasis hosted a celebration with an ofrenda, food and mariachi.

Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday where families welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives. The celebration includes food, drinks and music.

The event on Nov. 1 started with a moment of silence to honor those who have died in Palestine. Student leaders, Vice President Nathalie Villalobos and sophomore Michael Alvarado, then discussed the history of the Day of the Dead and their first activity: musical chairs.

Each table at the Wool Ballroom had sugar skull coloring sheets for students and faculty to color and small paper sombrero hats for attendees to wear.

Story continues below advertisement

The club made their own ofrenda for attendees to partake in. An ofrenda is an altar built to honor lost loved ones. People were encouraged to bring pictures of deceased loved ones or use the printer provided at the event.

Mariah Slaughter

The ofrenda arch was handmade from cardboard boxes and paper marigolds. The club members themselves handcrafted each marigold during and after they hosted an arts and crafts night on Oct. 18. 

According to Oasis’s Instagram, “the scent and color of these flowers [marigolds] are said to lead the spirits of our loved ones back to us.”

Ana Santiago, a freshman Mexican-American student, helped build the arch and flowers.

“Making the little flowers was kind of fun,” Santiago said. “It turned out really well. Just knowing the actual meaning behind the arch, the marigolds and Mexican culture is really nice.”

The event also welcomed Mariachi Mendez to play songs such as La Bamba by Ritchie Valens, Cien Años by Vicente, Amor Eterno by Juan Gabriel and Piel Canela by Eydie and Los Panchos.

Mariah Slaughter

Villalobos, a junior Mexican-American student, played a role in organizing the event by overlooking every detail. She said this was stressful, but worth it. 


“It’s the biggest event of the year. We normally get over 200 people,” Villalobos said. “It’s really great because we can show people the culture, and I feel like this year was way better because we did get our funding up.”

The event cost about $2,000 to put together, which the club received from their yearly Student Government Association (SGA) funding.

Rodrigo Vasquez, a junior Brazilian-Dominican student and president of Oasis, said that since he is not Mexican, he took a more hands off approach when planning this event so that it could be as authentic as possible.

“A lot of people really want to go to the event because it’s a big event,” Vasquez said. “I feel like it’s the most culturally immersive one.”

Villalobos said her favorite part was the Mariachi because it added a live music aspect, something she does not get to experience often.

“It’s not something you see often, especially in an area like St. Louis where there aren’t that many Latinos. So it’s honestly nice to listen to this music live because it’s really different from hearing it in your headphones,” Villalobos said.

Vasquez said he enjoyed the reactions of his friends to the mariachi. He said there was one Spanish song his friend wanted to see live, and they played it at their table.

“When I’m telling you this man looked so happy, he looked like a child that was just given candy,” Vasquez said. “Our entire table decided to start singing the song as they were singing it towards him. It was the best part of anything.”

They had many options for attendees to eat. Including asada and veggie tacos, red rice, beans and cheese, soda, chips, varying types of salsa, onion, cilantro and conchas for dessert. They catered their food from Taqueria Durango in Overland.

Mariah Slaughter

“The food was some of the best I’ve ever eaten at Oasis,” said Erald Murati, a junior student studying classical humanities and biology.

Murati encouraged students of non-Latino descent to attend these events as he did, to make a more tolerant community. 

“I think the best way to create a tolerant community, tolerant student body and tolerant future, is to expose people to different cultures like these and say, ‘hey, we may have different traditions, but the fact that you want to respect your loved ones that you’ve lost, and that I can connect with that on a certain level is important’, and I think it’s so valuable,” Murati said.

Mariah Slaughter

Murati’s favorite part of the event was printing a picture of his late grandmother and setting it up at the ofrenda. 

“It was one of the more meaningful events I’ve been to that Oasis has held. One of the more special things about it for me was the opportunity to print a picture of a loved one on the spot,” said Murati. “I really liked the idea of respecting the dead yearly, because sometimes I feel like I don’t pay that respect that often.” 

For Santiago, seeing people passing by and joining the event was her favorite part. 

“A lot of people really enjoyed [the event], even though they didn’t really know what the event was and joined after walking by,” Santiago said.

Oasis is a club that celebrates all Caribbean, Latin American and Hispanic cultures, hosting a variety of events celebrating different cultures. Their next event will be Taste of Caribbean where they hope to have live music and a variety of food.

Murati said he appreciates how Oasis exposes him to a range of cultures. 

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” said Murati. “These events are put on, I think, to make us want to wander and learn about other things different from our own. So stay curious and ask some freaking questions, dude.” 

Leave a Comment
Donate to The University News
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Saint Louis University. Your contribution will help us cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The University News
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The University News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *