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Decked out with candles, paper mache flowers, fresh marigolds, intricately decorated skull art pieces and photographs of beloved people who have died, the altar in Beirut's Instituto Cervantes was a typical representation of Dia de los Muertos. The Mexican Day of the Dead celebration, marked annually in Mexico and by the Mexican diaspora around the world at the end of October and beginning of November, is an important piece of the country's heritage. To recognize the contributions of Lebanese immigrants to Mexico, the altar at this year's Dia de los Muertos celebration honored Mexicans of Lebanese origin who had been important figures in arts, culture and entertainment, including filmmaker Miguel Zacarias, former manager of the World Boxing Council Jose Suleiman and founder of the Lebanese Mexican Cultural Institute Antonio Trabulse.Haddad has no Mexican roots, but said she has her own personal connection with Dia de los Muertos.The day is the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which paved the way for the creation of the state of Israel, and is regarded as a black day in the Arab world.Then she took a trip to Mexico in 1997 and learned about the Dia de los Muertos celebration, which also falls on her birthday.
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