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The University of Southampton

Celebrating the Day of the Dead at Southampton

Published: 23 November 2011Origin: Modern Languages and Linguistics
Pupils from Gregg School

Every year, Modern Languages academics join students and local schoolchildren to celebrate the Mexican Dia de los Muertos - the Day of the Dead.

This colourful festival has been organised in the Avenue Campus for the last ten years by Southampton academics and students, many of who are at the university as postgraduate researchers and visiting teachers from Mexico. In an attempt to share some of her country’s customs with the wider Southampton community, Irina Nelson, a member of staff who is originally from Mexico, co-ordinates the setting of a Day of the Dead altar.

This altar, which is set up by staff and students, including Southampton undergraduates who spent their year abroad in Mexico, is known as an ofrenda. Here, mementoes of loved ones who have passed away, examples of some of their cherished possessions and even some of their favourite foods are displayed. In addition, bright-coloured flowers and candles are designed to attract the spirits. “This is a happy festival when family members come together to remember the departed and recall happy times with them,” explains Irina.

Supported also by the University’s Routes into Languages initiative, about five schools in and around Southampton visit the Avenue Campus each year to see the ofrenda and learn more about this, one of Mexico’s most striking traditions. Twelve year-olds from The Gregg School in Southampton attended this year, for example. According to their language teacher, Barbara Webber, “Our pupils are very interested in learning Spanish, they were all very keen to come and find out more about Mexican culture.”

To listen to a report on the Day of Dead event at Southampton, click on the link to the right of this page.

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