There’s a reason you saw more sugar skulls and calaveras on the streets of the U.S.A. this year.
It’s one of the many after-effects of the second major historical wave of U.S. migration from Mexico, which more or less coalesced around the opening of the North American market and has reached net-zero in relation to migrants who are returning to Mexico. In its wake, Americans have adopted the taco truck, the liberal use of Spanish phrases in rap by major American hip-hop stars like Kayne West and Kendrick Lamar, and the Days of the Dead.
The (Days or) Day of the Dead, aka "Dia de Muertos," is celebrated November 1 to 2, overnight. Mexicans at home make altars for their departed, while on the streets the holiday has morphed into a carnival of sugar skulls, calavera skeleton figures, and crowns of marigold flowers.
Since last weekend, countless communities from big cities to rural counties in the United States took on festivals and special events, concerts, art openings, and exhibits related to Day of the Dead. Morrissey — idol to many, many Mexican American mozheads — headlined last night's Day of the Dead festival in Santa Barbara.
Inevitably, given current trends in liberal academic theory, Day of the Dead has become a flash-point in ongoing debates about cultural appropriation in U.S. consumer culture. The imagery related to the holiday will abound in a forthcoming Disney/Pixar animated feature titled "Coco"; cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz is a consulting producer on the film, which can't be anything but a good thing.