Hanal Pixan: The Mayan Dia de Muertos in Cancun

Hanal Pixan: Dia de Muertos in Cancun

In America and other parts of the world on the 31st of October, Halloween a tradition with an ancient Celtic origin where people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts has been celebrated up until now all over the world, now characterized by all kinds of crazy costumes worn by kids and Halloween fans while tons of candy are given away. And although it’s a famous event in Mexico too, here we have our own traditions dedicated to the dead and “the beyond” like the Hanal Pixan: The Mayan Dia de Muertos in Cancun.

After the famous Disney film, “Coco” many started to acknowledge the “Día de Muertos” or “Day of the dead”, a celebration dedicated to remembering those who have passed. It is said that on the 1st and 2nd of November each year the souls of the deceased return to the world of the living, to stay for a couple of days with their relatives and nourish themselves with the essence of their favorite food offered to them in the altars placed in their honor.

Dia de Muertos in Cancun

Although Halloween is also celebrated, Dia de Muertos in Cancun is the principal and most respected by all Mexicans. Each state has its own way of honoring the dead, and its own beliefs. El dia de Muertos in Cancun (The day of the dead in Cancun) is a shared celebration that comes from the ancient Yucatecan tradition “Hanal Pixan”.

The Hanal pixán, or “meal of the souls”, is a tradition of the Maya people that is carried out to remember in a special way the friends and relatives who are already on their eternal journey. From October 31 to November 2, it’s said that the spirits “get permission” to visit and so all their family, gather around to create an altar in memory of them.

The first day, also known as U Hanal Palal, is devoted to children. On this day, sweets are offered on the altar in remembrance of the lost children. A tablecloth in cheery hues adorned with Xpujuc yellow flowers, Xtés in red, and Virginias. In some places, it’s common to place traditional toys as well.

The second day, November 1, is devoted to the dead adults and is known as “U Hanal Nucuch Uinicoob“. Lastly on the third day, “U Hanal Pixanoob“, also known as “Misa Pixán“, a mass for the dead is gathered typically in the town’s cemetery.

The main ritual involves setting up a table as an altar, illuminated with candles, under the trees in the courtyard and close to the graves of the relatives, and furnishing with seasonal foods like atole, pibes or mucbipollos, tamales, etc. Flowers, rue branches, and pictures of the departed are used to decorate everything.

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