Day of the Dead
On October 29, 30, 31, and November 1st and 2nd, the Mexican people celebrate their loved ones who have passed on. The best way to describe this Mexican holiday is to say that it is a time when Mexican families remember their dead and at the same time, the continuity of life.
An important thing to know about the Mexican Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is that it is a holiday with a complex history, and therefore its observance varies quite a bit by region and by degree of urbanization. It is not a morbid occasion, but rather a festive time. Generally speaking, the holiday’s activities consist of families welcoming their dead back into their homes, and also visiting the graves of their departed loved ones. At the cemetery, family members clean up the gravesite, decorate it with flowers, and set out and enjoy a picnic while visiting with other family and community members who gather there. In both cases, celebrants believe that the souls of the dead, the ánimas, return and are all around them.
In Yucatán, the holiday is known as Hanal Pixan. The meals prepared for these picnics are sumptuous, usually featuring the foods the departed loved ones liked, such as the Yucatecan chicken and pork pot pie dish, mucbilpollo, and a special egg-batter bread, pan de muerto, or bread of the dead. Gravesites and family altars in the homes are profusely decorated with flowers (usually yellow, orange and purple), and adorned with religious amulets and with offerings of food, cigarettes and alcoholic beverages for the adults and toys for the children.
The traditional observance calls for departed children to be remembered Nov. 1st, the Day of the Little Angels, or Día de los Angelitos, and for adults to be remembered on the second day called All Saints, or Todos los Santos.
In the markets Lucas de Galvez and San Benito you will find colored candles that are used to decorate the altars, and sugar skulls with names on the foreheads that are also used. Both the candles and the skulls are unique to this time.