Mixing cultures: Day of the Dead and Halloween

The L.A. Times published an article today entitled, “Day of the Dead culture is getting pulled into Halloween’s retail vortex”.

Here are three key points:

First–

An estimated 179 million Americans are expected to spend a record $9.1 billion this year on Halloween.

Second–

It’s not surprising that Day of the Dead merchandise sales would flow into the Halloween retail season because of the calendar, said Tricia Lacy, president of Beistle Co., a century-old Pennsylvania maker of decorations and party goods for retailers.

“There’s no practical way to wait until Halloween” to buy Day of the Dead costumes and other goods “because they’re celebrated one right after the other,” she said. So retailers increasingly include Day of the Dead sections in their Halloween displays.

When Beistle started carrying Day of the Dead products more than a decade ago, it sold only four items. It now has more than 60 Dia de los Muertos products for sale, including masks and paper lanterns, “and we will have more next year,” she said.

Third–

Day of the Dead products are “dramatically more visible to me this year,” said Charlene Villaseñor Black, a professor of Ibero American Art and Chicana/Chicano Studies at UCLA. “The melding together of Halloween and Day of the Dead is becoming more apparent.”

The ever-growing Halloween retail phenomenon is even encroaching on Christmas turf. Some Halloween buffs are buying bright-orange fake Christmas trees from the likes of Treetopia of South San Francisco and adorning them with skulls, skeletons and candy to create Halloween trees.

The jump in Halloween spending not only is a bright spot for retailers but an offbeat economic indicator because its growth generally has tracked the economy’s expansion and rising consumer confidence.

A few words caught my attention in the original article:  melding, cultural appropriation, mainstream, popular style, growth, backlash, commercialization, tension, and products. 

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