Okay I’m about to say something controversial…
Please don’t come for me Internet.
My love of Halloween has kinda been replaced…
*wait for screams of surprise to die down*
I have always been a huge fan of Halloween, even though I have (for years) committed the faux pas of wearing the same costume year after year after year. You know what? Creativity is hard ya’ll okay? Please don’t judge.
Anyway, as any sugar-loving human I have always appreciated the literal mountains of candy that are omnipresent during Halloween. I am also a huge, and only slightly ashamed, lover of Candy Corn. However, seeing the Día de los Muertos celebrations in Mérida and San Cristóbal de las Casas gave me such a huge respect and adoration for the traditions.
While I’m sure I will never fully understand the significance of the day for those who truly celebrate it and/or truly believe, it’s still lovely to witness. It was such an honor to be invited to the celebrations and seeing cemeteries full of joy, music, food, and laughter was such a startling but beautiful moment.** In every community there is death and there is always sadness and mourning. And yet, here the atmosphere is more of a celebration of those who have passed rather than misery that they are gone. I think that’s a truly impressive way to look at not only death but also the whole world. To focus on what we have and to be thankful for what we had rather than angry or hurt that it is now gone.
Also, in the Yucatán the day (in actuality it usually spans several days) is referred to as Hanal Pixan. The celebrations, altars, makeup, and food differ greatly from the image that most Americans have of the holiday, re: Coco (whose aesthetic is more reminiscent of the day in the center or the north of Mexico). Hanal Pixan is a beautiful demonstration of the continued Maya influence in the area. I am no expert but the altars of Hanal Pixan tend to use more banana leaves and other natural elements. Additionally, the Yucatán has a special food that they eat during this time called Pib.
Here’s the altar that my wonderful psychology class came together to create:
Also here is a lovely video that shows a little more about the preparation of Pib and the traditions and beliefs which surround it. Warning, only watch if you are prepared to cry buckets:
^the video is in mayan with subtitles in Spanish and English
**I dearly want to post pictures of the many cemeteries that we visited but I honestly don’t think that it’s my place. While we asked permission to take photos it feels different to put them on the internet. I would really encourage you to look up pictures online of Hanal Pixan and the cemeteries, especially in Zinacantan and San Juan Chamula. The traditions and clothing in Zinacantan are especially gorgeous and unique and feature beautiful floral patterns and decorations:
P.S. Many in Mérida and in San Cristobal de las Casa (in Chiapas) celebrated a modified version of Halloween as well. In San Cristobal kids dressed up (mostly as skeletons) and sang a special song to get candy. I heard the song like 30 times but the only part I understood was something about not wanting beer. I was rather confused but also it was adorable so it’s all good. In Mérida especially among the teen/young adult population Halloween was celebrated in rather the same way we do: people dressed up as sexy versions of things that maybe should never have been made sexy and use it as an excuse to drink.