latino lingo

All things related to effective Hispanic marketing, Hispanic advertising and Hispanic public relations.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

What are you wearing for "Day of the Dead"?

While little Johnny and little Chelsea prepare to dress up as action figures and princesses to trick or treat their way to some goodies, little Juanito and little Celia are getting ready to make sugar skulls as a way to embrace death as a natural part of their existence. Called Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and around for thousands of years, it sits in stark contrast to Halloween. Read BellaOnline's article by Rebecca M. Cuevas De Caissie for more.

Rather than don Power Ranger costumes, people wear wooden skull masks, dance to honor dead loved ones and decorate altars. The sugar skulls are marked with the name of the deceased and then are eaten by a relative or friend. Grave sites are decked out with marigold flowers and candles. The favorite food of the deceased are eaten at the grave site, and toys are brought for dead children. People also bring bottles of tequila or cigarettes for the dead adults depending on their fancy on this side of the grass.

While Dia de los Muertos is celebrated by primarily Mexicans (though it is celebrated in Central and South America), I can't help but think about the notion of fatalism, which is a characteristic found in nearly all Latino countries. And, thus, in most first-generation immigrants here in the U.S. "Sí Dios Quire" (If God wants/If God Permits) is something most of us grew up hearing from our parents and grandparents. The notion that Sí­­­ Dios Quire or if los espiritus or la virgen dictate, things will happen -- good and bad -- runs rampant.

This is an important distinction for companies marketing health or life insurance, for example, to first generation Hispanics; many of whom may think their death is out of their hands for the most part. That's why it's often tough to get mami or papi or better yet abuela to see the doctor with frequency or to take preventative measures to control ailments that affect us disproportionately like diabetes. Thus, recent initiatives in the industry like consumer-driven health care or direct to consumer pharmaceutical advertisement can be a tough nuts to pitch if using the same pitch being given to the Anglo (or even the assimilated Hispanic) market.

So, have the candy corn and Snickers on hand, but maybe have some Fruit Atole on hand in case little Juanito is thirsty.


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