“Death does not exist, people die only when they are forgotten; If you remember me, I will always be with you.” Isabel Allende.
Among the Mexican traditions known around the world, the most famous and at the same time enigmatic is “the Day of the dead”. In Costa Maya we honor this tradition by sharing it with our visitors.
Celebrating those who passed is not exclusive to Mexican culture, but it is fundamental to our traditions, even before Columbus and the Spaniards arrived at our lands.
Every tribe in Mexico, the Aztecs, the Olmecs, and even the Mayans, used to celebrate this holiday in a similar way with key elements that had transcended to our days and which mixed with other elements that surged through history, have turned this celebration into a beacon for Mexican culture.
If you want to celebrate life and afterlife, keep reading the 4 key elements of a traditional “Day of the dead” celebration.
A celebration to share:
Harvest days are always seen as times of abundance. There is a lot of food around for people get together and share. During the day of the dead, just as in Halloween, All saints day and other pagan festivities celebrated in October and Novemberas, the fruits of harvesting are always present. In the Mexican tradition, seasonal fruit is always included in the offerings, as well as the favorite food of the loved one we are honoring. These offerings are placed on an altar next to other elements and a representation of the departed, it could be their picture or any personal effect. The name of this offering in Mayan language is Hanal Pixan.
Everyone is welcome on Day of the Dead. But let´s get organized:
The main celebration is set on November 2nd, but every soul is supposed to arrive in specific days prior to this date, according to how they passed away. We start making the altars on October 28th, welcoming those who died on an accident, then, on the 29th, the little children who left this world come to enjoy their toys and offerings. On the 30th women who passed during pregnancy or giving birth share the day with elders. On the 31st, we honor warriors and people who died during wars or other human-caused tragical situations.
The last day to make the altar is November the 1st, which is when all the souls are allowed to come and celebrate with us. Once every soul has enjoyed their offering and is ready to go back to the land of the dead, the party starts for the living. On November 2nd we can start the celebration and delight our palates with all the delicious dishes they share with us, knowing that once again we are sharing the bread with our loved ones.
The flowers show the way:
The Mexican marigold, also called Cempasuchil, is the icon of the “Day of death” celebration. This bright, orange flower, is also known as the 20 petals flower and is used, besides to decorate the altar, to create a fire path to guide the spirits to their altar. Cempasuchil flower is considered a gift to the gods of death, an offering to thank them for allowing the passage of the souls from the world of the deads to the world of the living.
Everyone is “La Catrina”:
This emblematic figure is nor part of the original celebrations in the pre-hispanic era. It is a cartoon made by the Mexican painter Jose Guadalupe Posada, who mixed indigenous elements with European clothes of the 20th century as a satirical way to represent the Mexican natives who wanted to emulate the costumes of Spaniards and French of their epoch as a way to feel superior. this cartoon has become an icon for this celebration because it shows that clothes and makeup don´t matter at all when you face death. We are all the same inside, we are all “La Catrina”
In Costa Maya we celebrate life and traditions, that is why from October 31th to November 2nd, we have prepared a magical celebration for our visitors to share the joy of honoring those who left this world before us.
Come to Costa Maya and enjoy the delicious dishes of the traditional Hanal Pixan, the colorful altars, the music, the ambiance and the magic of our Mayan Culture.