What exactly is the #DayoftheDead? The Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday that might seem a little creepy at first…skulls, graveyards, but it’s actually a beautiful holiday celebrating loved ones who have passed on. An altar is set up in the home and normally includes decorated incense, pan de muertos (or dead bread as we foreigners like to call it), calaveras (colorful sugar skulls), candles, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the deceased. Altars also include photos and belongings of the dead and even things like cigarettes and liquor. These gifts are then taken to the cemetery, which is also decorated. November 1 is the day to honor infants and children and November 2 is dedicated to adults. The origins of el Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) can be traced back hundreds of years to an Aztec Festival.
Hanal Pixan, the Mayan Version
This is the state of Yucatan’s (the state right next to the state of Quintana Roo where Playa del Carmen is located) Mayan version of the Day of the Dead. Traditional Yucatecan dishes are prepared for the souls of the deceased who are believed to return on this day. One of the most popular dishes is mucbi pollo, which is something like a chicken tamale that is buried and cooked underground for hours…delicious! Mayan families also decorate their loved ones graves and create altars in their homes. In this case food plays a bigger role on the altar in preparation for this October 31- November 2 when souls receive permission to visit their family members.
Halloween in Playa del Carmen
This U.S. Holiday has been gaining popularity in Playa del Carmen in the last few years. Costumes are sold in stores like Walmart. Many schools and daycare centers hold parties or festivals that combine the Day of the Dead and Halloween and in many neighborhoods children now go trick-or-treating.