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This Friday, Hodges Library will receive a macabre makeover courtesy of UT’s second-year Spanish program students as they celebrate Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. The event will take place from 10 a.m to 3 p.m.

Day of the Dead altar
Day of the Dead altar

The holiday dates back to the Aztecs, who used it as a way to celebrate their deceased relatives rather than mourn them. The Day of the Dead is now celebrated throughout Mexico and other countries in South America, as well as in many areas of the United States.

Following tradition, students will be displaying Day of the Dead altars—ornately decorated shrines to passed loved ones—throughout the first floor of Hodges Library.

“Through the Day of the Dead altars, students get to participate hands-on in a cultural tradition outside their own and then share it with friends and fellow members of the UT community,” said Harriet Bowden, associate professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures. “It allows them to view the world in a different way that at first might seem different or strange, but as they get involved, they come to appreciate this different perspective.”

Visitors will have the chance to sample pan de muerto, a sweet bread baked especially for the holiday that features bone-like figures on the crust and sugar, and to vote on their favorite altars.

“The winners will also get to display their altars as a piece of artwork at a local prestigious gallery,” said Rossy Toledo, senior lecturer of Spanish studies.

Carmel Tanguay, Spanish senior lecturer, believes the festival is a great educational opportunity not only for Spanish learners, but for all UT students to experience traditions that may at first seem alien. “Things like the Day of the Dead make our world seem so much smaller and far more accessible,” she said.

Also on Friday, UT’s Spanish Club will celebrate the Day of Dead with a screening of the film Coco. This event will take place at 7 p.m. in the outdoor courtyard of the Fred D. Brown Jr. Residence Hall. Entrance is open and free food will be available.

CONTACT:

Andrea Schneibel (andrea.schneibel@utk.edu, 865-974-3993)

Will Wells (yqk572@vols.utk.edu)