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Day of the Dead Celebration: 2016 Day of the Dead Celebration

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The Day of the Dead or Día de los muertos is celebrated on November 2. Duquesne's 2016 Day of the Dead Altar will be on display from October 21 through November 8th at Gumberg Library. It is sponsored by the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, and commemorates these individuals:

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43 Missing Students of Ayotzinapa

On September 26, 2014, 43 male students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College went missing in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico.

Mexican songwriter Juan Gabriel  “Juanga"

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2016 Día del los muertos altar

Preparing the altar

The finished altar

Students' altars

Butterfly Messages

Messages to deceased loved ones

Day of the Dead Beliefs

There are many versions about the origins of the Day of Dead, but we cannot deny that it is a mixture of Catholic and indigenous traditions all over Mexico, especially in the central area of the country. Beyond questioning the origins and the tradition, it is important to acknowledge the role it plays nowadays in cultures in Mexico and the United States.

One of the most important aspects that must be highlighted about this tradition is that it expresses the connection between the living and our ancestors who have passed away. It symbolizes the return of the souls of our beloved family and friends to remind us that we are not alone. The return is seen as a celebration; this is the reason why we place offerings, such as their favorite food, drinks, music and beloved objects on the altar. The altar is a way to express our gratitude and respect to those who visit us.

The city of Pátzcuaro, and the island of Janitzio in the State of Michoacán, located in central Mexico, offers a special version of this event. The Purhépecha nation of the region believe that when someone dies, he/she becomes a butterfly. The importance of this belief is based on the fact that it coincides with the arrival of the Monarch Butterflies in the State after their long journey from Canada. During the celebration of the Day of the Dead, the butterflies fly around the cemeteries and the graves, marking the return of our ancestors in a beautiful and corporeal way.

Professor Jorge Tapia-Ortiz

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