President's Blog

All Saints, Halloween, Dia de los Muertos

It’s that time of year; autumn colors have faded, the ground is covered in crispy brown leaves, the community garden has been put to rights for the winter, the chill in the air has a cutting edge, there’s more gray than blue in the skies. It’s November on campus. Mid-terms have passed but there’s still a way to go until finals. The novelty of the semester has worn off and yet the end is not quite yet in sight. Thanksgiving break can’t get here soon enough.

This season has its own celebrations, marking the pivot of the year toward the dark, the cold, dormancy.

Last night, Chung Mungs took faculty and staff children trick-or-treating through the dorms and — of course! — Sweet Briar House. Rick and I are delighted to see the various ghouls, film characters, animals, and superheroes walk up through the Boxwood Circle to the front door.  Last night, I was particularly enchanted by a small lobster-in-arms. 

Trick-or-treating is the least of it. Today and tomorrow, the Sweet Briar Museum is offering a tour and program of ghost stories. “The program includes fictional and non-fictional accounts, such as “The Shadow Child,” which appeared in the very first Sweet Briar Magazine in 1909, “A Mid Summer Night’s Vision of Daisy’s Garden” from 1915, and a news story from 1928 titled “Novel Ghost Flits Far Ahead.”” And last Saturday there was a 5K “Zombie Run” on campus. This event was created by business students as a fundraiser for the Jennifer Hunter Yates Sarcoma Foundation. If you don’t know about zombie runs, they’re pretty much like any other 5K — just with zombies chasing you.

Photo from NPR on facebook

Some of our celebrations are thoughtful opportunities to reflect on the relationships and ties that connect the living and the dead. New Chaplain and Director of Student Spiritual Life Dori Baker held an all saint’s commemoration this week: participants were invited to bring memories of the saints (whether canonized or not) who have touched their own lives most deeply.

And later this afternoon the Cochran Library is sponsoring the 2nd annual Dia de los Muertos celebration. They’re collaborating with the student group Hermanas Unidas on this; there will be homemade Mexican food, face painting, and candy skulls to decorate. There will also be an altar on which participants will display photos of friends and family members who have passed away. (There’s an interesting explanation of the meaning of the altar pictured at left on NPR.)

As the darker and colder season closes in, the campus finds creative, fun, and meaningful ways to make sure Sweet Briar generates light and warmth.


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