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Day of the Dead exhibits recognize Mexican holiday

by Cheryl Roland

Oct. 27, 2011 | WMU News

KALAMAZOO--With Mexico's national Day of the Dead holiday coming up Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 1 and 2, Western Michigan University departments are using the event to showcase one popular aspect of the celebration and to reach out to an area high school to share their expertise.

The annual holiday revolves around family and friends gathering to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. In Mexico, it enjoys the status of a national holiday and is celebrated in conjunction with the Catholic observances of All Saints Day on Nov. 1 and All Souls Day on Nov. 2. One of the signature customs for the event is the construction of elaborate altars--called altar de muertos--to welcome home the spirits of the departed.

From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31, through Wednesday, Nov. 2, two altar de muertos will be available for viewing on campus--one in the Trimpe Hall Multicultural Center and the other in the Meader Rare Book Room on the third floor of Waldo Library. The exhibits are sponsored by the Department of Spanish and the Division of Multicultural Affairs.

From 1:20 to 2:05 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 1, two WMU faculty members and several graduate students from the Department of Spanish will be at Kalamazoo Central High School to help that school judge its Day of the Dead altar competition.