Their culture, beliefs, and folklore that make the Maya so unique. I must say the amount of fascination we have for this culture started way back on our first trip to Tulum a year and a half ago and has only grown since. That growing fascination has transformed into a real sense of gratitude, reverence, and love for the Maya because of how genuinely kind and welcoming they are. Their way of life is simply beautiful and joyous. Here in Merida — alters have been going up around the city, streets, and parks.
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It takes place from October 31 to November 2, when the souls are permitted to return and visit their relatives. This tradition includes several ways to honor the dead, with the main one consisting of setting a table that functions as an altar, lit with wax candles. Food takes on a very special meaning as traditional dishes are prepared for the spirits who will return to visit their families.
Contrary to what many people think, this holiday is a way of celebrating life and honoring family and friends that have departed. Families set up a table that functions as an altar in their home, go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and prepare to greet the souls of the departed by cleaning their home as if they were expecting visitors.
The spirits of children who have died return first. In the altar, food, cigarettes, alcohol, and all kinds of foods the deceased liked in their physical lives can be found. These are usually placed near a tree or near the place where our loved ones are buried. That day, a service or mass is held, usually in the public cemetery for all the souls.
Although spirits are not seen as malevolent, they may play tricks or become attached to the life they once had, so in the rural villages people maintain certain beliefs: usually a red or black string is tied around the wrist of children, believing that will protect them from the spirits. It is also a tradition to tie up animals that usually roam free so these animals do not get in the way of the spirits.
The name of this dish is a composite Mayan and Spanish words. In more modern times, people cook this food in either a regular oven at home or a wood-fired oven. The dead enjoy the essence of the foods and later, the living will consume what is left.
Hanal Pixán… the “Day of the Dead” for the Mayas in Yucatan
Hanal Pixán: Day of the Dead Among the Maya
Hanal Pixan: El Día de Muertos de los Mayas