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The East Texan

Breaking Bread with the Dead

%28from+left+to+right%29+Chris+Hernandez%2C+Rebekah+Davidson+and+Hannah+Johnson+take+a+taco+break+at+the+fiesta.
(from left to right) Chris Hernandez, Rebekah Davidson and Hannah Johnson take a taco break at the fiesta.

(from left to right) Chris Hernandez, Rebekah Davidson and Hannah Johnson take a taco break at the fiesta.

(from left to right) Chris Hernandez, Rebekah Davidson and Hannah Johnson take a taco break at the fiesta.

Travis Hairgrove, Managing Editor

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The colorful skull makeup and other skull-depicting artwork (calaveras) may be the most recognizable and visually striking tradition associated with Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and do much to imbue the Mexican holiday with a sense of mystery, but the Office of Hispanic Enrollment and Retention at Texas A&M University-Commerce invited all students and staff to its own celebration, to help give the university community a more nuanced understanding of the meaning behind the festivities.

“What we’re trying to do is help more people understand what Dia de los Muertos is,” Assistant Dean Fred Fuentes said. “We don’t want people to be scared of it or think that it’s something demonic. It’s a way of remembering and honoring friends and family who have passed, that started with indigenous cultures long long ago. Later, when the Spanish came and brought Christianity, they said, ‘Ya’ll can’t be doing this anymore, except on All Saints’ Day [and All Souls’ Day],’ so it got mixed in with that.”

The cultural event (held on Nov. 3) featured two components: an altar display on the second floor of the library for which student organizations and staff offices were invited to build decorated altars as a tribute to deceased loved ones; and a fiesta at the amphitheater, which focused on the celebratory side of the holiday by offering free face painting, tacos and tamales, and lively, Spanish-language dance tunes.

Emily Y getting her face painted with a festive "calavera" (artistic representation of a human skull) for the occasion.

Emily Y getting her face painted with a festive “calavera” (artistic representation of a human skull) for the occasion.

part of a Dia de los Muertos altar by ¡Profes!

part of a Dia de los Muertos altar by ¡Profes!

part of a Dia de los Muertos altar by the Employee Wellness program

part of a Dia de los Muertos altar by the Employee Wellness program

a Dia de los Muertos altar by the A&M-Commerce Basketball Team

a Dia de los Muertos altar by the A&M-Commerce Basketball Team

part of a Dia de los Muertos altar by Career Development

part of a Dia de los Muertos altar by Career Development

part of a Dia de los Muertos altar by the Gee Library

part of a Dia de los Muertos altar by the Gee Library

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Breaking Bread with the Dead