Catrinas and Calaveras in Cancun

31 Oct
Mexico is known across the globe for its vibrant and colorful holidays. Here, even death itself takes on a joyful vibe every year on El Dia de los Muertos (“The Day of the Dead”). Held on November 1 and 2, this holiday celebrates loved ones who have passed on with altars to the deceased called ofrendas and an annual visit to grave sites.

Since Day of the Dead falls so close to Halloween, the two holidays are often combined here in Cancun. Children roam neighborhoods trick-or-treating with parents and friends, while the streets fill up with images of La Catrina, an elegant lady skeleton symbolizing Day of the Dead.

One of the many Catrinas I found in Cancun’s Parque Las Palapas tonight

 Tonight was an interesting one for Jorge and me. We had several groups of trick-or-treaters stop by, and we gave them some classic Mexican candies. (Jorge’s enjoying the leftovers as I write this.) Then we took a stroll around Parque Las Palapas, which had lots of family activities, people in costume, and a show with colorful Mexican dances.

My best friend Viri had an ofrenda for her brother and grandfather set up at her home, and her parents were kind enough to let me take some pictures. It has many of the classic ofrenda elements, with incense, marigolds (Flor de Muerto), pan de muerto, candles to guide the way of the deceased, sugar skulls (calaveras) and some of their favorite food and drinks from when they were living.

I always feel like Day of the Dead is a fascinating mix of intimate family memories and vivid social traditions, bringing together families and communities alike. This year in Cancun was no different.

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

7 Responses to “Catrinas and Calaveras in Cancun”

  1. Francisco November 1, 2011 at 7:10 am #

    El día de muertos es por mucho mi celebración favorita. Esta llena de color y el ambiente es melancólico, pero también alegre. La familia suele reunirse en el panteón en torno a las ofrendas y los niños salen a pedir su “calaberita”.

    Como siempre, muy interesante conocer tu opinión bien mexicana.

    – My translation attempt –

    The day of the dead is, by far, my favorite holiday. It’s full of color and the atmosphere is melancholic but cheerful as well. The family usually meets in the pantheon around the ofrendas on the graves and the children go to ask for “calaberita” (Literally “little pumpkin”, that is, fruit, candy, money, seasonal desserts, etc).

    As always, is very interesting to know your very mexican opinion.

  2. Ang November 1, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    This is such a interesting thing to me… I love it!

  3. Kristi November 1, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

    Such a fun tradition to remember those loved ones who have passed on. The outfits and makeup is very cool, you got some good photos!

  4. lisa n javi November 1, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

    So cool thanks for sharing. I love learning new things about the culture.

  5. KfromMichigan November 1, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    Mexico has a great tradition to remember their loved ones. I’m always amazed at the alters they design.

  6. Nikki {perpetually engaged} November 2, 2011 at 6:36 am #

    I love those dresses. How lucky you get to experience it all!

  7. becca November 15, 2011 at 3:17 am #

    I’ve always been fascinated by El dia de los muertos. My mama is a Spanish teacher and she taught us all about the holiday growing up. I love the art that goes along with it too. I just picked out a papel picado print to recover a vintage high chair. Random, I know.

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