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Hispanic Outreach hosts Dia de los Muertos

By Alyx Davidson
On November 4, 2010

The Office of Hispanic Outreach and Student Programs sponsored a Día de los Muertos celebration on Wednesday, Nov. 3 at 5:00 p.m. in the Student Access and Success Center.

The Day of the Dead is a traditional Latin American holiday to honor family and friends who have passed away. This is the second year the event has been celebrated at A&M-Commerce.

"The Day of the Dead gives everyone a chance to socialize while honoring death, rather than fearing it," Coordinator of Hispanic Outreach and Student Programs Gilbert Hernandez said.

Traditionally, the Day of the Dead falls on Nov. 2, the day following All Saints Day and is not to be confused with Halloween.

"We are not here to make death scary with the idea of ‘trick or treat'," Hernandez said. "We are honoring, not mocking the dead."

Altars are built for departed relatives, where offerings of food and drink are made throughout the day. Pictures and significant objects are placed on the altar in memory and celebration of the deceased. There was one such altar on display during the event.

"The altar and its decorations are symbolic of our love for the deceased," Hernandez said, "and it shows that our memory of them still lives on."

Pan de Muerto is the traditional bread placed on the altar, while Mexican hot chocolate is the customary drink. Both items were available during the celebration, along with sweet bread. Freshmen Saul Martinez and Margon Sanchez served the bread to guests at the event.

"I think this event is a good way to expose our culture, not just to Hispanics, but to the community," Sanchez, a business major, said. "We had a good turnout and I was glad to see such a variety of people."

Sugar skulls are a traditional folk art used to embellish the altar. Once molded, they are elaborately decorated with cake icing in a variety of colors. Plain skulls and icing were also provided at a table during the event.

"To us, the skull does not represent death in the traditional way," Hernandez said. "We honor it with life and celebration."

There was also a face-painting station with colored tissue paper and pipe cleaners to make flowers. The paper flowers were a substitute for marigolds, the traditional flowers placed on the graves of loved ones during the holiday.

"The face painting, hot chocolate and bread were my favorites," sophomore agricultural sciences and technology major Zach Torres said. "This is my second year participating in the Día de los Muertos event on campus, and I enjoy attending all the Hispanic Outreach activities."

Some think the university should welcome more activities like this in the future.

"I think there should be more cultural events for Hispanics on this campus," graduate clinical psychology student Julian Sanchez said.

More information on the Day of the Dead and upcoming Hispanic Outreach events can be obtained via e-mail at or by phone at 903-468-8665.

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