UW-Madison partners celebrate Day of the Dead, traditional altars

People celebrated Mexican traditions at the sixth annual Day of the Dead Fiesta at the Nancy Nicholas Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Human Ecology on Friday.

Art and activities at the event represented the celebration of loved ones who died.

“It’s about making a connection that’s a lot more meaningful and a lot deeper and something that’s about being a human being,” said Carolyn Kallenborn, a coordinator for the event and a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Various kinds of altars made by community members and sent from Mexico were on display. In addition, a textile gallery was available for public viewing. It showed textiles related to death.

Alberto Vargas, a UW-Madison professor of Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian studies, said Day of the Dead is about celebrating the lives of those who have died.

“The cemeteries become alive once a year (in Mexico), and it’s really beautiful,” Vargas said. “It’s a really, really great thing to see.”

Kallenborn said that the fiesta is an opportunity for the Madison-area community to see traditional altars and to celebrate Day of the Dead.

“Especially here in the states, we work all the time. We’re so crazy busy all the time, and sometimes we forget where we’re from and what’s important, and how we’re only here for a short while,” Kallenborn said.

Day of the Dead typically falls around Halloween and, although people wear costumes, organizers reminded people that Day of the Dead is not a Mexican Halloween.

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