Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead -A Memorial Day for Mexico

Despite Hurricane Rina, which is thankfully leaving Posada Yum Kin Hotel in Tulum with a wimper, Dia de los Muertos is about to begin. The Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos, though called something different everywhere, is a holiday many countries observe. The holiday focuses on gathering with friends and family and honoring the dead while celebrating the cycle of life and death. It is thought that this is the time that the dead return to their homes for a short time.Catrinas

Here are few examples of what this holiday is called around the world:

  • United States, Canada and Europe – Halloween
  • Scotland – All-Hallows-Even
  • Phillippines – Todos Los Satos
  • Japan – Obon Festival (aka Matsuri or Urabon)
  • China – Teng Chieh
  • Hong Kong  – Yue Lan (Festival of the Hungry Ghosts)
  • Korea – Chuseok or Hangawi (in August)
  • Nepali – Gai Jatra (aka. Cow Pilgrimage –as cows lead the spirits of the dead into the next land)
  • Sweden – Alla Helgons Dag

The Origination of the Day of the Dead celebration

This fall festival is usually linked with the Roman Catholic heritage’s All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Dating further back, indigenous cultures as diverse as the Aztecs to the Pagans observed similar festivities around the same time each year. For instance, Day of the Dead celebrations date back as far as 2,500 – 3,000 years ago into the Aztec culture.

Dia de los Muertos – Mexico

In Mexico, it is traditional to build private altars using sugar skulls and marigolds while bestowing favorite foods to the departed. While it was then celebrated around August, the holiday is now observed in alignment with All Saints Day (Dia de los Inocentes) and All Souls Day (Dia de los Angelitos) on Nov 1st and 2nd. Throughout Mexico this is a three-day holiday that begins on Oct 31st, in the Yucatan, Dia de los Muertos is often an eight-day long event.

Our friends at TripAdvisor have a nice article on Day of the Dead celebration in the Yucatan.

It’s excerpt is shown in full below.

November 1 and 2 – Dia de los Muertos – Day of the Dead

“Day of the Dead ceremonies in the Yucatan Peninsula have two major elements: cemetery decoration and the commemorative alter in the home. The food often consists of meat dishes in spicy salsas, a special egg-batter bread ( pan de muerto ), cookies, chocolate, and candied sugar skulls. Many restaurants and hotels will have special events, altars, or dinners for the Day of the Dead. 

The Mayan event is known as Hanal Pixan, which means “a feast for all souls”.

The Mayan version of the Day of the Dead is a blend of Christian and Mayan elements. On October 31st, souls arrive to visit their family and enjoy the festivities. An offering of food is prepared according to the preferences of the honored dead. In the early morning on November 1st, souls of dead children appear and will be received with corn on the cob. While the souls are dining, the family pray the rosary. After the souls leave, the family will eat breakfast together. At midday, an offering of food is made. On November 2nd, the adult souls arrive, guided by candles, which have been placed around the house – one for each departed soul, plus extras in case the family has forgotten someone. There is once again an offering of food on this day. Once the adult souls have finished eating, the living family and friends join in the banquet. In the Yucatan, the dead stay for eight days and on the last day a similar party with fresh food and offerings is given as a going away party for the souls.”

Dia de los Muertos – Tulum

In the Tulum area, one way to participate in the Day of the Dead Celebration is at Xcaret Eco-Archaeological Park. XCaret, located between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, will offer special programming during this period. Their featured state will be Tabasco, with a delegation of over 100 visiting from that area of Mexico. They will share their dances, music, folklore, stories and food in honor of their dearly departed. Then in a more intimate view of their Dia de los Muertos, a “Child Death ritual” will be shared along with a poem by Jesus Echevariria.

Posada Yum Kin, with its bilingual staff, is an eco-friendly, 9-unit, boutique, all suite hotel in Tulum, Mexico and features fully equipped kitchens, a new pool and complimentary breakfasts. It possesses a ‘real Mexico’ atmosphere, but fully concentrates on luxury, while offering a little bit of condo convenience.

For more information or to book your next visit, email Carlo or Dan at Posada Yum Kin.