The Michelson Museum is planning its third annual celebration of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, for Oct. 29.
The event will run from 5 to 7 p.m. at the museum and is free and open to the public.
Event coordinator and museum volunteer Audrey Lozano said that the event is a way to learn about and celebrate Mexican culture, as well as show the community a traditional way to celebrate their lost loved ones.
“It’s a great way to celebrate the idea that people who pass away are not totally gone,” Lozano said, “We have the opportunity to have them with us one more day.”
The event will feature a traditional Day of the Dead altar designed by Lozano. She will give an explanation of the way the altars are built and what it means.
Lozano said that the traditional altar has three stages. The first, which is near the floor, is where you put all the food that you want to offer to the person.
“You put out food they liked. If they liked bread, and corn, and beans and rice, you make that special meal for that person,” she said.
The second portion is special items that belonged to person who has died. She said that it is key that the item is something that person would remember.
The third part of the altar is where you place a picture of the beloved person who died. The altar is also traditionally decorated with bright colors and marigolds, whose bright color and scent is said to bring the soul of the lost loved one back for one night.
“This is a celebration of life of a special person who passed away,” Lozano said. “The person you are paying a tribute to on your altar comes back for one night.”
The event will also feature a tasting of the traditional bread, pan de muerto.
Lozano said that there will also be candy for trick-or-treaters and a showing of the movie “The Book of Life,” which tells the tale of a young boy in Mexico who goes to the land of the dead on Día de los Muertos.
“It really explains the culture of the Day of the Dead and why it is important to pass the tradition along,” Lozano said.
She said that the altar will be on display at the museum through Nov. 2, which is the official Day of the Dead.
Community members are welcome to stop by and see the altar at any point, and Lozano said if she is in the museum she will be available to discuss the altar and answer any questions.
Lozano herself is an artist, originally from Mexico, who moved to the area five years ago with her husband, Eduardo Lozano, who is a bilingual teacher at William B. Travis Elementary School. She volunteers at the Michelson.
“This is just my way of giving back to the community,” she said.
Lozano wanted to let people know that anyone can set up an altar at their home to honor loved ones that have passed away.
The tradition was started thousands of years ago by the Aztecs, and is a very important part of the year in Mexican culture.
“Back in Mexico people really follow the tradition,” Lozano said, “They go to the cemetery and they do the altar there, and they spend the night there.”
She said that the event had about 200 people in attendance last year, and she expects more to attend this year.