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On Nov. 1, the Ezperanza Peace and Justice Center opened their doors to the public for a viewing of altars in memory of those who have passed away.

The Day of the Dead, or “Dia de los Muertos,” is a Mexican holiday celebrated in Mexico and within many other cultures. The celebration lasts for two days Nov. 1, “Dia de los Innocents y Angelitos,” or Day of the Children to honor the lives of children who have died.

On Nov. 2, “Dia de Los Muertos” is celebrated to honor the lives of adults who have passed away.

Patrons signed in and had a piece of “Pan De Muerto,” or dead bread, in hand as a ticket for the event. Inside, werehandcrafted altars that include clothing, memorabilia, freshly made food, scented candles and marigold flowers as a symbol of the holiday. Family members create the altars to celebrate the loved ones they lost.

Debbie Cifuentes, a volunteer at the Ezperanza Center, created one altar dedicated to many members of her family. In honor of her grandfather, Miguel Acosta, who worked for Schlitz Beer Company, she added his business card and a can of Schlitz beer. Her grandmother was a Spurs fan and collected memorabilia, adding a Spurs cheerleader teddy bear.

Cifuentes also drew attention to the everyday necessities that are just as important to add. These items include soap, towels, a toothbrush and toothpaste to freshen up upon arrival of their journey.

Coins are also left out, as there is a toll to cross. A mirror is set out so the departed loved ones can view themselves and realize they are from the other side and will need to return after the celebration.

Water is left out as they have traveled and will be thirsty. A dog (a picture, stuffed animal, glass figurine) will be their guard while they are visiting. Salt symbolizes the salt of the earth.

In the second part of the Ezperanza center are less traditional pieces honoring those who have died. Inside were drawings, sketches and slideshows. Marisol Cortez, a volunteer, created a less traditional altar in memory of her mother, Virginia Foley. Foley’s alter told the story about a woman who lived in a Minnesota farm.

Cortez recalls a picture of her mother with “her head thrown back from laughing.” Cortez remembers her mother as “organized, kept things running, loved to cook, clean and enjoyed spending time with family.” In this part of the center, the theme was simplicity.

The exhibit illustrated that although a loved one has died, they will never be forgotten whether it is their characteristics, their clothes, their favorite basketball team or significant memories that live on for generations to pass on.

Dia De Los muertos is not a day to dwell, but to celebrate a life that was meaningful.

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