Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday that spans multiple days and is celebrated throughout most of Mexico and parts of the U.S. It is a time honored tradition in which loved ones spend time creating beautiful altars and delicious food for their relatives who have passed on.
But, for whatever reason, there are those on this campus that toss out the reverence demanded by this beautiful and sacred tradition in favor of plastering “cute” and “trendy” sugar skulls across their organization’s t-shirts.
There are others who have already, or are planning to paint their faces with the sugar skull design as a way to get likes on Instagram.
It happens far too often, and it’s time that we start talking about it.
Día de los Muertos is a unique holiday. It combines elements from both the Aztec and Catholic religions.
It began as an indigenous holiday, but it survived and adapted through the colonization of Central and South America.
Día de los Muertos is a holiday that celebrates life, death and the afterlife, without the fear or horror that is so often associated with death.
The altars combine images of the Virgen de Guadalupe (the Virgin Mary), candles, marigold flowers, sage and burning incense as a way to greet and honor the dead.
The holiday is just as important as any other religious holiday and should be treated just as respectfully by those who don’t celebrate it. If every year on Easter, people wore images of Christ hanging on the cross on their face, people would be in outrage. The indigenous origins of this holiday do not make it any less religious or any less deserving of respect.
When people who don’t celebrate the Day of the Dead wear sugar skulls, they might feel as though they are special. They’re wearing something colorful and “exotic.”
But in reality, when you wear the sugar skull without understanding the importance of the culture, you’re perpetuating racism.
You’re appropriating a culture in order to look “cool” and it’s not okay.
A culture is not a costume.
So before you pick up the white paint, consider the strong and beautiful religious holiday that you are disrespecting.
Let’s have a year of not using sugar skulls to “look hot,” or to get likes or to have the “trendiest” organization shirts on campus. Let’s respect this holiday and hold it in esteem just like any other holiday.