MEPNs celebrate Dia de los Muertos


  This post is written by guest writer, Arianna Reisman, 2nd year MEPN.

The first event of the Diversity Nurse committee was a celebration of Dia de los Muertos, or the day of the dead. One of our MEPN students , Annette Diaz-Santana, generously offered to share her experience with this holiday and led a discussion regarding the traditions surrounding this holiday. This tradition is centered around the alter, and in this case we dedicated it to Florence Nightingale, the Lady with the Lamp.

The ofrenda (alter) is meant to keep the family close, traditionally built at the cemetery where the loved one is buried. The deceased are honored with food, drink, and gifts of the things that they loved. It is believed that during these days (November 1st & 2nd) the loved ones can enter the world of the living to honor friends and family and  bring good fortune.

Annette led a discussion on evolving traditions, including the newly established day of the dead parade in Mexico City, as well as the rising popularity of la Catrina, pictured in the paintings of  Diego Rivera.


The group listened while munching on pan de muerto, a traditional bread representing the skull, bones, and circle of life.  Annette’s mother was able to pick purchase the bread in Tijuana, a reminder as we ate, of the geographical and cultural proximity we share to Mexico. We washed down the pastries with hot chocolate, commonly enjoyed during this holiday and a treat on a San Diego fall day.

It was a powerful first gathering, made more meaningful by a student teaching the group a piece of her own cultural heritage to the benefit of those who came. We are looking forward to seeing what this group can accomplish this year!



About kathymarsh

Associate Dean at Hahn School of Nursing University of San Diego
This entry was posted in Guest Writer, University of San Diego. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to MEPNs celebrate Dia de los Muertos

  1. Linda Urden says:

    Fantastic! post! Thank you for the story, Arianna. And also to Annette for sharing the historic significance, threading in Florence Nightingale and your traditions!!!!!


  2. Jacqueline Close says:

    Ari and Annette. What an awesome start to a great year. I am proud of all of you, keep up the good work.


  3. Ann Mayo, Professor says:

    This sounds so wonderful!


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