The Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday that might seem a little creepy at first…skulls, graveyards, but it’s actually a beautiful holiday celebrating loved ones who have passed on. An altar is set up in the home and normally includes decorated incense, pan de muertos (or dead bread as we foreigners like to call it), calaveras (colorful sugar skulls), candles, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the deceased. Altars also include photos and belongings of the dead and even things like cigarettes and liquor. These gifts are then taken to the cemetery, which is also decorated. November 1 is the day to honor infants and children and November 2 is dedicated to adults. The origins of el Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) can be traced back hundreds of years to an Aztec Festival. If you’d like to create an altar in your home, or even just see all of the colorful flowers, skulls, and traditional Mexican candy, visit Market 23 in downtown Cancun.
Hanal Pixan, the Mayan Version
This is the state of Yucatan’s (the state right next to the state of Quintana Roo where Cancun is located) Mayan version of the Day of the Dead. Traditional Yucatecan dishes are prepared for the souls of the deceased who are believed to return on this day. One of the most popular dishes is mucbi pollo, which is something like a chicken tamale that is buried and cooked underground for hours…delicious! Mayan families also decorate their loved ones graves and create altars in their homes. In this case food plays a bigger role on the altar in preparation for this October 31- November 2 when souls receive permission to visit their family members.
Halloween in Cancun
This U.S. Holiday has been gaining popularity in Cancun in the last few years. Costumes are sold in Market 23 and in other stores like Walmart. Many schools and daycare centers hold parties or festivals that combine the Day of the Dead and Halloween and in many neighborhoods children now go trick-or-treating.
Day of the Dead Events in Cancun
There are a few ways you can experience the Day of the Dead in Cancun. Eco-archaeological park Xcaret holds a yearly Festival of Life and Death Traditions, a beautiful combination of workshops, handicrafts, altars (offerings), children’s and puppet theater, storytellers, parades, films, interactive activities, music, dancing and much more. You can also witness the recreation of an ancient Mayan ball game, visit a traditional Mexican cemetery or take a tour to the underworld. In addition, many bars and discos in Cancun hold Day of the Dead parties and in downtown Cancun.
See our Exclusive Offers to experience the Day of the Dead in Cancun.
Pictures: avidpost Flickr, Judith Haden, endirectdesiles’, Xcaret