September 28, 2021
  • 7:00 am Outstanding Professor Award Recipient’s Mic Drop Moment at Last Month’s Virtual Ceremony
  • 9:10 am Bookworms of the World Unite!
  • 7:46 pm Breaking News: All Students Living in Campus Housing Required to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine
  • 9:00 am CSUDH Esports Creates International Competition
  • 9:35 am Spring Commencement Ceremonies Get Brighter
  • 3:46 pm Breaking News: Spring Commencement Ceremonies Recieve Stadium Upgrade
  • 8:00 am Testing the Teachers (and All the Educators)
  • 9:30 am CSUDH Educators and School Employees, Vaccinated Next
  • 10:30 am For White People Only: Anti-Racism Workshop Addresses Racial Bias and Unity
  • 2:43 pm Greatness Personified: Remembering Kobe Bryant
  • 10:02 am Straight Down the Chimney and Into Your (Digital) Hands: Special Holiday Edition of The Bulletin!
  • 2:44 pm Did You Wake up Looking this Beautiful?
  • 11:43 am A Long History for University’s Newest Major
  • 5:15 pm Issue 5 of Bulletin Live! Collector’s Item! Worth its Weight in Digital Paper!
  • 4:06 pm Special Election Issue
  • 4:03 pm Three best Latinx Halloween & Horror Short Films available now on HBO Max
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  • 3:52 pm BREAKING NEWS: Classes for Spring to be Online, CSU Chancellor Announces
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  • 2:35 pm Will Time Run Out Before Funds for PEGS? [UPDATED]
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  • 5:00 pm Under Fire from the Feds, Vaping’s Future is Cloudy
  • 3:28 pm We’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat; Tsunami 3.0 Hits Campus, Enrollment Swells
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  • 9:21 pm The Bulletin’s Public Records Request Offers Springboard to Launch Gender Equity Discussion at CSUDH
  • 4:27 pm Black is the New Black: Raising the Capital on the “B” Word
  • 10:53 am Guns Up for Arrest: Student advocacy group pushes for CSU No Gun Zones–Including the Police
  • 4:09 pm Staff Editorial: Words on the First
  • 8:42 pm Carson Mayor Blasts Media, Landmark Libel Case in Keynote Address
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  • 3:12 pm Academic Senate Rejects CSU GE Task Force & Report
  • 3:06 pm Work To Be Done
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  • 8:02 pm CSUDH President Parham Announces Cancer Diagnosis
  • 9:47 am CSUDH Art Professor’s 20-Year Journey Results in First Local Showing of Film
  • 9:13 pm Free Speech or Free Hate area?
  • 9:08 pm CSUDH’s Best & Brightest Shine at Student Research Day
  • 9:05 pm Academic Senate Approves Gender Equity Task Force
  • 12:37 pm When Dr. Davis speaks, Toros Pay Close Attention
  • 3:38 pm Investing in the Future: Dr. Thomas A. Parham Reflects on the Past Eight Months and Contemplates​ the University’s Future
  • 3:24 pm Green Olive to Open By End of Feb; Starbucks Not Until Fall
  • 3:20 pm Gov. Newsom’s Proposed Budget Hailed for Extensive Funding Increases
  • 3:08 pm Out of the Classroom: Labor and Community Organizing Course Aims to Teach Students How to Organize for Social Justice
  • 2:54 pm The Other Route in Professional Sports
  • 9:02 am Hail to the New Chief, CSUDH President Thomas Parham
  • 3:36 pm Career Center Holds Major/Minor Fair
  • 5:34 pm After Unexpected Delay, Undocumented Becomes More Intimate Theatrical Production
  • 1:30 pm What to Expect When You’re Expecting New Buildings
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  • 7:36 pm Toros Volleyball Ready to Flip the Odds
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  • 7:07 pm CSUDH Men’s Basketball Adds Seven Newcomers to Roster

Photo by Nova Blanco-Rico

By Violeta Rocha, Co-Social Media Manager 

Christmas, Easter and Halloween are three examples of rituals and traditions with roots reaching back more than 2,000 years  that have become secularized and commercialized holidays emphasizing consumerism over culture.

Is Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, next on the list?

 For one local example, in a Monday article in the Daily Breeze newspaper, columnist David Whiting wrote that although he had been to many Day of the Dead events across Southern California, he had never seen anything as “cool and awesome” as a Whittier celebration last week that included “tricked out and lowrider cars. (In fairness ,he did mention  that Day of the Dead is rooted in “Mexican culture and time to celebrate and honor[relatives].”

But the emphasis on something that has nothing to do with a celebration that began during the Aztec empire gives credence to those who feel the increasing popularity of Day of the Dead in the U.S.  is diluting its significance and obscuring its history. That the meaning and symbolism of a tradition that celebrates life through honoring the dead is endangered by things such as Hollywood co-opting it through films like “Coco” and the James Bond flick “Sceptre,” cultural appropriation and being seen as “Mexican Halloween.”

“I do feel that in recent years there has been the commercialization of the tradition without proper education of the rituals,” Dr. Corina Benavides López, an assistant professor in the Chicano/a studies department, said.  “Many times, one sees Day of the Dead decorations along with Halloween decorations at places like Target and Walmart. Yet, they are not the same type of celebration. El Dia de los Muertos is not a Mexican Halloween.”

According to Claudia Mendoza Diaz, a professor in the modern languages department at CSUDH, Day of the Dead stems from Aztec mythology. They believed that after death, a person’s eternal sould could only rest after a four-year journe through nine daunting layers. Every August, it was believed, the boundary between life and death was most fluid, and they felt the dead had returned  to the land of the living. To make them feel welcome, alters, or ofrendas were erected in homes and adorned with skulls, a potent Aztec symbol of death and rebirth, and marigolds, considered a sacred flower.

However, when the Spaniards colonized Mesoamerica and forced the inhabitants to convert to Catholicism, the Aztec ritual, after unsuccessful attempts to eliminate it, was “rebranded” to the first two days of November, when the minor Catholic holidays of All Saint’s Day and All Souls Day were observed.

This resulted in a cultural hybridization, with indigenous touches, such as the ofrendas holding offerings such as skulls and marigolds, but now alongside Catholic symbols, such as candles dedicated to saints and pan de muerto, a cross-topped bread symbolizing the Eucharist.

The fact some indigenous customs survived into the modern world is one reason why Day of the Dead celebrations began appearing in the U.S., particularly Southern California’s East Los Angeles in the 1970s.

According to a 2013 article in The Journal of American Folklore, by Regina Marchi, these secular celebrations began “as a way to communicate messages of Chicano identity.” 

One can’t help but wonder if buying Day of the Dead blonde ale at Wal-Mart, or a Day of the Dead shower curtain on Amazon for $17.99, was high on those cultural activists’ agendas.

CSUDH’s annual Day of the Dead celebration will take place in the Sculpture Garden Nov. 5  from 4 p.m.-7 p.m.



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