Every year at the end of October and beginning of November, the souls of family members and friends who have already left this world have a date with their loved ones who are still alive…in their own houses. Altars are prepared and food and beverages are served on the main table for the souls who are visiting: a celebration enjoyed by both the living and the dearly departed.
With roots in Maya traditions, from October 31 to November 2 the souls of the dead ask for permission to coming home to visit with their loved ones. The living relatives prepare the altars that honor their deceased relatives with deep devotion and abundant enthusiasm. They are usually placed in a special location in their home, and no altar is complete without a table with candles, “Xpujuc” flowers (marigolds), red “xtés” flowers, new table linen (remember, this is a really important celebration), photos of the deceased relatives, symbols such as a glass of water or salt, and seasonal food and beverages for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The 31st, the first day, is dedicated to children, and some sweets are added to the altar, as well as toys, fruits such as jícama, mandarins, and oranges, and “xec” (a salad prepared with the previously mentioned fruits), sweetened papaya, coconut, and pumpkin seeds in different presentations. The following days, food and beverages are added for the deceased adults. For example, for breakfast, hot chocolate is served in a gourd, as well as coffee and bread for each of the dead. For lunch and dinner the traditional “pib” is prepared, tamales, and the favorite dish of the deceased, as well as glasses of liquor and beverages that they loved when they were alive.
If you are asking yourself if all of this food gets to be eaten, the answer is yes! After a few hours when it’s believed that the soul is fed with the aromas of the food, then the family can enjoy these delights.
Where can you see the altars and other traditions?
Besides the altars that are placed in houses, there is also is a tradition of creating student altar contests in the schools, or one for the whole school.
Also in some shopping malls you can also see altars with the same elements. Another tradition is that the graves are cleaned and painted.
Janal Pixan is a traditional celebration, one of the most important in Yucatán, where you can see a blend of culture, gastronomy, and mysticism. Do you want to make an altar? Go to the market and buy everything that is needed.
Editorial by Violeta H. Cantarell
Photography by Yucatán Today
Read more about Día de Muertos and Janal Pixan:
- Festival de las Ánimas in Yucatán
- Day of the Dead in Yucatán
- Janal Pixan Altars
- ¡Ya Huele a Pib! (it smells like Pib!)
- Pib Season
See here a little bit of what Día de Muertos is all about:
Get to know one of the most and beautiful traditions in Campeche:
A film by Pegasus Family
Written & directed by Oliver Kyr
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