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Is Día de Los Muertos Becoming Too Commercialized?

Before we can decide if Día de Los Muertos is becoming too commercialized let’s understand what exactly is Día de Los Muertos.

For starters Día de Los Muertos has nothing to do with Halloween. It is rooted in indigenous Mexican beliefs that date back to long before the Spanish conquest of Mexico. This indigenous tradition holds that the dead return each year to spend time with the living.

On Nov 1 Day of the innocents is celebrated when deceased children and infants are remembered.

On Nov 2 many Mexicans and Mexican Americans visit the graves of family and friends, bringing with them the food, drink, and possessions that their loved ones enjoyed in life and spending hours chatting, singing and sharing stories of those who passed away. Altars with photos and favorite objects of loved ones are displayed in many homes. It often is much more a celebration of life rather than a mourning of death, whether those commemorating the holiday believe the spirits of their loved ones are present or not. Día de Los Muertos is celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular, the Central and South regions.

In recent years Día de Los Muertos has become very popular in the U.S. as the commercialization of this day has grown each year. The California Lottery put out new Día de Los Muertos lottery scratchers for 2018 with imagery of traditional sugar skulls, La Catrina and skulls with charro sombreros.

Hollywood has tapped into this day with the big-budget animated films “The Book of Life” and “Coco” along with products tie-ins such as T-shirts, backpacks, lunch boxes, and stuffed animals.

Disney got major backlash for trying to trademark Día de Los Muertos to protect its financial interest in the film and associated products.

Target has offered a Day of the Dead” Halloween candy dish and Cost Plus World Market in the past has sold 49 items on its online “Los Muertos Collection,” including beverage napkins, corkscrews, bowls, and wind chimes.

Oh and let’s not forget about that in recent years Día de Los Muertos has been one of the top Halloween costumes sold in stores and online. Which incorrectly educates the public that Dia de Los Muertos is Halloween in Spanish or its Mexican Halloween. This is not only offensive to the true meaning of the tradition but to Mexicans especially indigenous Mexicans.

So has Día de Los Muertos become too commercialized, yes! It’s great to see an increased awareness of this day but unfortunately, the traditions are getting lost among the merchandising and the race to come up with new products to sell so Hollywood and big companies can cash in and make this a million dollar holiday.

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