Day of the Dead Traditions Begin in Cancun

20 Oct

“Dia de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead) is one of the biggest holidays in Mexico, falling on November 2. Mixing in with Halloween traditions from its northern neighbor, Mexico’s Day of the Dead traditions offer a surreal combination of vibrant color, sadness, respect, comedy and culture, all in honor of loved ones who have passed away.

Even though many locals accuse the young city of Cancun as devoid of culture, I beg to differ. Even though most of our population comes from all over Mexico and the world, you’ll still find each Mexican family’s own version of a Day of the Dead altar. A few days prior to November 2, Mexican families begin to set up altars in their homes to honor the deceased.

Traditional Day of the Dead altar decor usually includes the following:

  • Marigolds
  • Calaveritas (small decorative skulls made of sugar)
  • Papel picado, colorful sheets of paper with shapes cut out
  • Photos of the deceased
  • Candles
  • Pan de muerto, a traditional loaf of sweet bread used only at this time of year
  • Food and drinks that the deceased enjoyed when they were alive

As the cold weather begins to set in (NOOO!), Cancun will start to make their altar purchases over the next week or so. Hopefully I’ll be able to document some of my friend’s family altars. For now, I’ll leave you with some photos from last year’s Day of the Dead in Cancun:

9 Responses to “Day of the Dead Traditions Begin in Cancun”

  1. DM October 20, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    I always look forward to your Day of the Dead posts. I love the way the Mexican culture handles it.

  2. Kristi October 20, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    Such an awesome tradition! I love Halloween and scary things and i love el dia de los muertos tambien!

  3. Ashlie October 20, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    Nice informative blog post Laura! I will be missing all of the Halloween festivities this year but we will be back in time to celebrate the Day of The Dead at Xcaret

  4. Meredith October 21, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

    Mmmm, my high school Spanish teacher used to give us pan de los muertos (o pan de la muerte). I always loved it1

  5. Nikki October 21, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    What does yours look like?!

    • Laura in Cancun October 21, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

      I don’t do any. I’ve only known a few people who have passes away, and I’m not sure they’re the kind of people that would appreciate an altar haha

      Jorge’s family usually does one for his grandmother, though.

  6. lisa n javi October 21, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

    Cant wait to see some more pix. Since I will be missing this holiday this year. I will be looking forward to christmas though.

  7. Ang October 24, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    i remember you posting about this last year… looked like such a neat tradition – can’t wait to see what this year turns up!

  8. GRRRL TRAVELER November 1, 2011 at 5:26 am #

    I’m so jealous that you get to experience this day each year. I’ve always wanted to see it. I like the altar but the sugar skulls looks yum.

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