Día De Los Muertos Used For Commercialization

November 01, 2013

(Photo courtesy of Adam Rodriguez-Desert Botanical Garden)
Celebrations at the Desert Botanical Garden.

The Mexican holiday, Día de los Muertos, is gaining popularity among people without traditional Latino ancestry. Some groups are trying to fight the holiday’s commercialization.

Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is traditionally celebrated by visiting relatives’ gravesites and adorning the tombs with relics, but in the U.S. the holiday has increasingly become a selling point for local bars and restaurants.  

Peter Sanchez heads the Albuquerque-based Atrisco Heritage Foundation. He said the organization is challenged to assure traditions like Day of the Dead do not become a marketing tool.

"It’s an opportunity for big parties and bands, and selling drinks and food. And which is probably very representative of the communities around the country. But I think there’s also some organizations and we’re not the only one that try to be more purist," said Sanchez.

Despite those efforts, people in Phoenix this weekend will paint their faces in the tell-tale Día de los Muertos fashion. A quick look at holiday listings shows Day of the Dead celebrations at galleries, restaurants, cultural centers and bars.