Xcaret holds a Day of the Dead festival every year — Photo courtesy of Xcaret
The Xcaret Festival of Life and Death Traditions is a yearly event that celebrates the colorful holidays Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) and Hanal Pixan (Food of Souls), the Mayan version of Day of the Dead. Both holidays honor loved ones who have passed. The living await the return of the souls of their beloved family members and friends on November 1, when infants and children are celebrated, and November 2, when adults are honored.
La Catrina (right) is the image of death in Mexico — Photo courtesy of Xcaret
At first glance these holidays may seem a bit creepy, considering all of the skulls and skeletons that are involved, but the celebration is actually joyful and colorful. In homes all across Mexico, families create altars dedicated to their loved ones who have passed on, integrating their photos, favorite foods, personal belongings, candles, flowers and papel picada, the cheerful Mexican paper decorations that are always hung during celebrations.
Young girls wearing ceremonial huipiles — Photo courtesy of Xcaret
On November 1, sugar skulls, toys and candy are placed on the altar for children’s souls, whereas cigarettes, tequila or beer might be included on November 2 for adult souls. Many families also go to the cemetery, which is beautifully decorated as well, to wait for the souls and play cards, clean the graves and reminisce.
Xcaret's cemetery is beautifully decorated for the Day of the Dead festival — Photo courtesy of Xcaret
Traditional foods prepared for the holiday include pan de muertos (aka Dead Bread, a sugary sweet bread), mucbil pollo (a huge, delicious chicken tamale that is cooked underground) and traditional Mexican candies like marzipan, dulce de leche and tamarindo.
The Festival of Life and Death Traditions features many theatrical performances — Photo courtesy of Xcaret
At eco-archaeological park Xcaret, the Day of the Dead and Hanal Pixan are celebrated with colorful theater, dance, expositions, a mass, exhibits, altars, music and food. There is even a children’s pavilion with activities, performances and games. This colorful celebration is a must for anyone visiting Cancun, Playa del Carmen or the Riviera Maya at the end of October/beginning of November.
Visitors can participate in the festivities by painting their face at one of the many stations set up around the park.
The 2013 Xcaret Festival of Life and Death Traditions will be held October 30 through November 3.